Background Autoantibodies against the glycoproteins desmogleins 1 and 3 which are components of the desmosomal adhesion complex have been shown to be responsible for the loss of epidermal adhesion characteristic of pemphigus. Elimination of these antibodies should clinically improve the pathology of this group of severe autoimmune blistering skin disorders.
Objectives To gather information about the efficacy of immunoadsorption in the reduction of pathogenic serum autoantibodies against desmogleins 1 and 3 and to evaluate the clinical benefit of immunoadsorption in the treatment of pemphigus.
Patients and methods Nine patients with pemphigus and detectable circulating desmoglein antibodies were included in this open trial. Two immunoadsorption treatments separated by a 48-h interval were performed per patient. Anti-desmoglein 1 and 3 antibodies in the patients' sera were monitored by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and indirect immunofluorescence before and following each immunoadsorption. In addition, the efficacy of the tryptophan-linked polyvinylalcohol adsorber in removing antidesmoglein antibodies was directly evaluated.
Results IgG antibodies against desmogleins 1 and 3 were effectively eliminated from the patients' plasma upon passage through the adsorber and levels of serum autoantibodies were significantly reduced by immunoadsorption. A single immunoadsorption treatment led to a reduction of antidesmoglein autoantibodies of about 30%. Clinically, mucosal and cutaneous lesions improved allowing for a reduction of the systemic immunosuppressive treatment with glucocorticoids.
Conclusions Immunoadsorption with tryptophan-linked polyvinylalcohol adsorbers holds promise as a highly effective and safe adjuvant therapeutic regimen in pemphigus.