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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2006 Jan-Feb;24(1 Suppl 40):S14-9.

Role of cellular immunity in the pathogenesis of autoimmune skin diseases.

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Unit of Dermatology, University of Padua, Padua, Italy.


The pathomechanism of most autoimmune skin diseases is still elusive; however, recent clinical and basic research is leading novel insights into the cellular and molecular biological underlying pathways. Several types of infectious skin diseases are infiltrated by significant number of gamma/delta T cells and similar observations have been made in selected immune-mediated skin conditions. In particular, a role for gamma/delta T cells has been suggested in discoid lupus erythematosus, contact dermatitis, herpetiformis dermatitis, necrotizing cutaneous vasculitis, and cutaneous lesions of systemic sclerosis. The pathogenesis of these diseases is different and this may suggest multiple potential functions of this subset of T cells in the immune system of the skin. Furthermore, most T cells infiltrating tissue and organs undergoing fibrosis have the potential to produce high levels of interleukin 4. This is particularly true for the CD8+ or CD4+ CD8+ double positive T-cell subsets. Furthermore, leukocyte recruitment is a key event in immunity and a better understanding of the signals involved in autoimmune diseases constitutes a valuable basis for the development of new strategies, which control leukocyte migration and function under pathological conditions.

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