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Immunohistochemical study of skin lesions in herpes zoster.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


Thirty-seven biopsy skin tissues of herpes zoster taken from 27 patients were analysed immunohistochemically using two monoclonal antibodies detecting either nucleocapsid or glycoproteins of varicella-zoster virus (VZV) on paraffin sections of formalin fixed tissues. Skin lesions of herpes zoster were divided clinically into four stages: erythematous, vesicular, pustular and ulcerative. In the erythematous stage, VZV antigens, if detected, were found only within ballooning cells in the lower epidermis or follicular epithelium. In the vesicular stage, antigens were detected in the cells around and within the intraepidermal vesicles and in histiocytes or fibrocytes of the dermis in all cases and in the endothelial or perineural cells in 10 of 14 cases. In the pustular stage, the antigens were observed in degenerated or necrotic keratinocytes and multinucleated giant cells within pustules and some necrotic cells in the dermis. In the ulcerative stage, the viral antigens were detected only at the ulcer margin and around the hair shaft in 2 of 7 cases. These results suggest that VZV initially involves the epidermis in the erythematous stage, subsequently invades the dermis in the vesicular stage, and disappears in the early ulcerative stage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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