• chemokines;
  • lymphocytes;
  • mast cell


Lichen planus is a disorder characterized by lesions of the skin and oral mucous membranes. Although many patients have involvement of both skin and oral mucosa at some stage during the progress of the disease, a larger group has oral involvement alone. It has been reported that oral lichen planus (OLP) affects one to two percent of the general population and has the potential for malignant transformation in some cases (1, 2). Like many chronic inflammatory skin diseases, it often persists for many years. Numerous disorders may be associated with OLP such as graft-vs.-host disease and Hepatitis C virus infection (3), however, it is unclear how such diverse influences elicit the disease and indeed whether they are identical to idiopathic OLP.

Available evidence supports the view that OLP is a cell-mediated immunological response to an induced antigenic change in the mucosa (4–6). Studies of the immunopathogenesis of OLP aim to provide specific novel treatments as well as contributing to our understanding of other cell-mediated inflammatory diseases. In this paper, the interactions between mast cells and T cells are explored from the standpoint of immune regulation. From these data, a unifying hypothesis for the immunopathogenesis of OLP is then developed and presented.