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J Cutan Med Surg. 1999 Jan;3(3):140-4.

In vitro C3 mRNA expression in Pemphigus vulgaris: complement activation is increased by IL-1alpha and TNF-alpha.

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Department of Dermatology, University "G.D'Annunzio," Chieti, Italy.



Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is a potentially life-threatening disease, characterized immunohistologically by IgG deposits and complement activation on the surface of keratinocytes. Complement activation has been implicated in the pathogenesis with C3 deposits in about 90% of patients.


In order to further elucidate the role of complement in PV and to define which cytokines play a role in C3 mRNA expression, we performed an in vitro study in human keratinocytes.


Normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHuK) were incubated with PV serum and C3 mRNA was measured. We previously had shown that IL-1alpha and TNF-alpha are expressed in PV in vivo and in vitro. Since cytokines are able to modulate complement activation, mRNA expression was evaluated in a similar experiment after pretreatment using antibodies against IL-1alpha and TNF-alpha.


Incubation of NHuK with PV sera caused their detachment from the plates after 20-30 minutes with a complete acantholysis within 12 hours. An early C3 mRNA expression was seen after 30 minutes with a peak level after 1 hour. Blocking studies, using antibodies against human IL-1alpha and TNF-alpha in NHuK together with PV-IgG, showed reduction of in vitro induced acantholysis and inhibition of C3 mRNA expression.


This study supports the hypothesis that complement C3 is important in PV acantholysis and that complement activation is increased by IL-1alpha and TNF-alpha.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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