The final destiny of acantholytic cells in pemphigus is Fas mediated

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Pemphigus is an autoimmune disease characterized by the formation of intra-epidermal blisters. Patients develop auto-antibodies against desmoglein 1 and 3 proteins and induce acantholysis.


This work addresses the issue of whether the Fas pathway mediates acantholysis. Furthermore, the possible suppliers of the Fas pathway were investigated.


Seventeen biopsies of pemphigus patients were studied by haematoxylin and eosin staining, and apoptosis was defined by TUNEL. The expression of Fas, FasL and caspase 3 was studied by in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry. Cell infiltrates were studied by immunofluorescence with monoclonal anti-CD3, CD4, CD8, CD19 and CD69.


All of the biopsies showed intra-epidermal blisters, acantholytic cells and inflammatory infiltrates. The blisters expressed Fas, FasL and caspase 3. Cell infiltrates were composed of CD8 and a few CD4+CD69+ cells. Additionally, CD19+ cells were detected. Interestingly, the Fas expression was increased in acantholytic cells and perilesional keratinocytes. Incidentally, these cells exhibited apoptotic features. Interestingly, the CD8 cells expressed FasL.


This paper presents the morphological evidence that apoptosis and acantholysis are linked. Therefore, the Fas pathway is associated with CD8 cells in pemphigus lesions.

Conflicts of interest

None declared.

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