Immunohistology of skin pathergy reaction in Behçet's disease

Br J Dermatol. 1995 Jun;132(6):901-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.1995.tb16946.x.


The immunophenotypic characteristics of the skin pathergy reaction (SPR) at 48 h in Behçet's disease (BD) were investigated in 12 patients with BD and in five controls. The findings in 11 positive and one negative SPR lesions of patients with BD were evaluated in comparison with those of normal adjacent skin and with the negative pathergy biopsies from the controls. Positive SPR biopsies showed variable epidermal thickening and cell vacuolization, as well as subcorneal pustule formation. In the SPR dermis, a variable dense focal mononuclear cell (MNC) infiltrate was seen around vessels and skin appendages, extending into the deep dermis. The MNC infiltrate was predominantly composed of T lymphocytes and monocytes/macrophages. The majority of the T lymphocytes were CD4+, and almost all expressed CD45RO. Approximately half of the infiltrating cells strongly expressed HLA-DR. Neutrophils constituted less than 5% of the infiltrating cells, but were present as clusters of elastase-positive cells at the needle-prick sites. Vessels within the lesion showed marked congestion and endothelial swelling. The endothelial cells expressed ICAM-1 strongly, and E-selectin moderately. VCAM-1 was not expressed on endothelial cells. The basal and mid-epidermal layers of keratinocytes expressed HLA-DR and ICAM-1 strongly, particularly so in areas close to the dermal MNC infiltrates. In negative pathergy biopsies, there were increased numbers of neutrophils and a few small clusters of macrophages and T lymphocytes only at the needle-prick site, and the endothelial cells of vessels close to these areas expressed E-selectin weakly.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behcet Syndrome / immunology*
  • Behcet Syndrome / pathology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / analysis
  • E-Selectin
  • Endothelium / immunology
  • Female
  • HLA-DR Antigens / analysis
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / analysis
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / analysis
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Skin / immunology*
  • Skin Tests
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • E-Selectin
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens