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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1988 Jan;158(1):150-7.

Epidermolysis bullosa letalis: an immunogenetic disease of extraembryonic ectoderm?

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  • 1Center for Reproduction and Transplatation Immunology, Methodist Hospital of Indiana, Indianapolis 46202.


A newborn male infant with epidermolysis bullosa letalis died at age 6 weeks of septicemia. He had many congenital ectodermal abnormalities and a rudimentary thymus. The spleen had no germinal centers and the lymph nodes lacked follicles. Cytotrophoblast of the amniochorion was sparse and the amniotic epithelium was distorted. Immunohistologic studies of amniotic epithelium revealed the unprecedented presence of trophoblast antigens. Before birth of the patient, the parents had a 5-year history of infertility; after death of the patient, the mother sustained a ruptured tubal pregnancy that necessitated blood transfusions and surgical removal of the tube. She subsequently became pregnant a third time and was delivered of a normal child. The wife shared four major histocompatibility (HLA) antigens with her husband. The parents' immunogenetic characteristics and the immunopathologic features and extraembryonic membranes of the child are considered in terms of maternal responses to trophoblast antigens.

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