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Arch Dermatol Res. 2007 Jul;299(4):213-9. Epub 2007 Apr 3.

Lichen planus remission is associated with a decrease of human herpes virus type 7 protein expression in plasmacytoid dendritic cells.

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Department of Dermatology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, P.O. Box 22700, 1100 DE Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The cause of lichen planus is still unknown. Previously we showed human herpes virus 7 (HHV-7) DNA and proteins in lesional lichen planus skin, and significantly less in non-lesional lichen planus, psoriasis or healthy skin. Remarkably, lesional lichen planus skin was infiltrated with plasmacytoid dendritic cells. If HHV-7 is associated with lichen planus, then HHV-7 replication would reduce upon lichen planus remission. HHV-7 DNA detection was performed by nested PCR and HHV-7 protein by immunohistochemistry on lesional skin biopsies from lichen planus patients before treatment and after remission. Biopsies were obtained from lichen planus lesions before treatment (n = 18 patients) and after remission (n = 13). Before treatment 61% biopsies contained HHV-7 DNA versus 8% after remission (P = 0.01). HHV-7-protein positive cell numbers diminished significantly after remission in both dermis and epidermis. Expression of HHV-7 was mainly detected in BDCA-2 positive plasmacytoid dendritic cells rather than CD-3 positive lymphocytes. HHV-7 replicates in plasmacytoid dendritic cells in lesional lichen planus skin and diminishes after remission. This study further supports our hypothesis that HHV-7 is associated with lichen planus pathogenesis.

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