Lichen Sclerosus: A Current Landscape of Autoimmune and Genetic Interplay

Diagnostics (Basel). 2022 Dec 6;12(12):3070. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics12123070.


Lichen sclerosus (LS) is an acquired chronic inflammatory dermatosis predominantly affecting the anogenital area with recalcitrant itching and soreness. Progressive or persistent LS may cause urinary and sexual disturbances and an increased risk of local skin malignancy with a prevalence of up to 11%. Investigations on lipoid proteinosis, an autosomal recessive genodermatosis caused by loss-of-function mutations in the extracellular matrix protein 1 (ECM1) gene, led to the discovery of a humoral autoimmune response to the identical molecule in LS, providing evidence for an autoimmune and genetic counterpart targeting ECM1. This paper provides an overview of the fundamental importance and current issue of better understanding the immunopathology attributed to ECM1 in LS. Furthermore, we highlight the pleiotropic action of ECM1 in homeostatic and structural maintenance of skin biology as well as in a variety of human disorders possibly associated with impaired or gained ECM1 function, including the inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis, Th2 cell-dependent airway allergies, T-cell and B-cell activation, and the demyelinating central nervous system disease multiple sclerosis, to facilitate sharing the concept as a plausible therapeutic target of this attractive molecule.

Keywords: basement membrane zone; collagen IV; collagen VII; extracellular matrix protein 1; glycosaminoglycan; laminin-332; lichen sclerosus; lipoid proteinosis.

Publication types

  • Review

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This research received no external funding