Background: There are a number of reports of pemphigus with clinical shifting between pemphigus foliaceus (PF) and pemphigus vulgaris (PV). On the other hand, a novel enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) against recombinant baculoproteins of desmoglein 1 (Dsg1) (PF antigen) and Dsg3 (PV antigen) has been established and found to be extremely sensitive and specific. Objectives: To characterize the change in the antibody profiles in a series of pemphigus cases with mixed features of PF and PV by various methods, including the novel ELISA. Patients/methods: Sera were obtained from eight cases undergoing a shift between PF and PV and three cases of coexistent PF and PV. The autoantigens were analysed by ELISA, as well as by immunofluorescence using normal human skin sections and immunoblotting using normal human epidermal extracts. Results: The results of the ELISA, immunofluorescence and immunoblotting studies showed that the transition between PF and PV correlates well with the changes of autoantibodies against either Dsg1 or Dsg3. Conclusions: The clinical phenotype at each stage is defined by the anti-Dsg antibody profile in the serum of these pemphigus patients showing mixed features of PF and PV. In addition, ELISA using recombinant baculoproteins was particularly useful in distinguishing PF and PV.
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