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Exp Dermatol. 2006 Feb;15(2):125-9.

Role of microchimerism in the pathogenesis of oral lichen planus.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Medical University of Graz, Austria.



Microchimerism of persistent fetal cells has been implicated in some cell-mediated autoimmune diseases. This study examines the hypothesis that fetal microchimerism plays a role in the pathogenesis of lichen planus (LP) affecting the oral cavity.


Mucosal biopsies of 12 women with oral LP (OLP) were tested for the presence of both male cells and male DNA originating from prior pregnancies or prior blood transfusions. Six male patients with OLP served as a control group. Biopsies were analyzed for the presence of Y-chromosome-positive cells by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) with X- and Y-specific DNA probes. To confirm the FISH findings, we used fluorescent polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to identify Y-chromosome sequences in DNA extracted from mucosal lesions.


Using FISH technology, all the 18 biopsy samples showed good hybridization results. In females, Y-chromosome-specific signals were not detected by FISH at any site of the lesions. PCR amplification demonstrated a single peak at the locus specific for the X-chromosome.


Male DNA microchimerism was not present in any of the investigated lesions, suggesting that microchimerism because of persisting male fetal cells is unlikely to play a major role in the pathogenesis of OLP.

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