The Histopathology of Urticaria Revisited—Clinical Pathological Study

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Abstract

Background:

The classic histopathological findings of urticaria include dermal edema and a sparse perivascular infiltrate of neutrophils, eosinophils, macrophages, and lymphocytes. However, this pattern is inconsistently described.

Objective:

To describe the histological and immunofluorescence characteristics of urticaria and to identify distinctive patterns.

Methods:

A retrospective study was performed in which the medical files and biopsy specimens of 58 patients with acute and chronic classical urticaria were reviewed. Pathological parameters were quantified.

Results:

We recognized 2 distinctive patterns of urticaria: lymphocyte and neutrophil predominant; the former was characterized by a perivascular location, whereas the latter was associated with an interstitial location and a denser infiltrate. Mast cells were relatively sparse, better demonstrated with special stains. Tryptase stain demonstrated more mast cells than Giemsa stain. Extravasated erythrocytes were present in 50% of the cases, but vasculitis was not observed.

Conclusions:

Histological findings in classical urticaria show a spectrum of findings from a sparse superficial perivascular to a deep perivascular and interstitial infiltrate. Distinctive groups based on the dominant cell type can be identified, accounting for the similarity to neutrophilic urticarial dermatosis. Lesions may have a purpuric appearance, but leukocytoclastic vasculitis is never present.

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