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J Autoimmun. 2008 Dec;31(4):311-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2008.08.003. Epub 2008 Oct 5.

Advances in pemphigus and its endemic pemphigus foliaceus (Fogo Selvagem) phenotype: a paradigm of human autoimmunity.

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Department of Dermatology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Pemphigus encompasses a group of organ specific, antibody mediated autoimmune diseases of the skin characterized by keratinocyte detachment that leads to the development of blisters and erosions, which can become life-threatening. The pathogenic autoantibodies recognize desmogleins, which are members of the desmosomal cadherin family of cell adhesion molecules. Desmoglein 3 is targeted in pemphigus vulgaris while desmoglein 1 is targeted in pemphigus foliaceus and its endemic form, Fogo Selvagem. This review will briefly define the salient features of pemphigus and the proposed steps in pathogenesis. We will then summarize the most recent advances in three important areas of investigation: (i) epidemiologic, genetic, and immunologic features of Fogo Selvagem, (ii) molecular mechanisms of injury to the epidermis, and (iii) novel therapeutic strategies targeting specific steps in disease pathogenesis. The advances in each of these three seemingly separate areas contribute to the overall understanding of the pemphigus disease model. These recent advancements also underscore the dynamic interplay between the treatment of patients in a clinical setting and basic science research and have led to an integrative understanding of disease pathogenesis and treatment, allowing pemphigus to serve as a paradigm of human autoimmunity.

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