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J Invest Dermatol. 2000 Aug;115(2):254-9.

Detection of expanded T cell clones in skin biopsy samples of patients with lichen sclerosus et atrophicus by T cell receptor-gamma polymerase chain reaction assays.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Medical Faculty Charité, Humboldt University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany. ansgar.lukowsky@charite.de

Abstract

Lichen sclerosus et atrophicus is a chronic dermatosis of unknown etiology and pathogenesis. Lichen sclerosus et atrophicus associated skin lesions show T cell enriched infiltrates, sometimes resembling the histologic picture of early mycosis fungoides. It is supposed that the infiltrating T cells participate in the pathogenesis of atrophy and sclerosis. We investigated skin biopsies from 39 lichen sclerosus et atrophicus patients by histology, immunohistochemistry and, in order to establish the status of T cell clonality, by polymerase chain reaction amplifying the T cell receptor-gamma rearrangements. A stage-dependent shift of the CD3-positive T cells was observed from a predominantly CD4-positive to a predominantly CD8-positive phenotype. The increase of CD8-positive cells was associated with more pronounced epidermotropism and basal degeneration. Nearly all CD8-positive cells expressed cytotoxic granules (TIA1), possibly causing the basal destruction. In the late fibrotic stage of the disease, only a weak or no infiltrate was found. Regarding the T cell receptor-gamma polymerase chain reaction, the presence of clonally expanded T cells was demonstrated in 19 of 39 patients (49%) by at least one of two different high resolution electrophoresis techniques applied to separate the amplification products. Thus, for the first time clonally expanded infiltrating T cells were detected in lichen sclerosus et atrophicus. Furthermore, this is one of the first reports on the detection of clonally expanded infiltrating T cells in an inflammatory skin disease. The clonal T cells could not be assigned to the CD4 or CD8 subtype. Most likely, their presence is not the result of a malignant transformation but a response to an as yet unknown lichen sclerosus et atrophicus associated antigen.

PMID:
10951243
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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