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Background  Pemphigus is an autoimmune disease characterized by intraepidermal blisters induced by pemphigus IgG. In addition to autoantibodies, molecular mechanisms involved in acantholysis remain largely unknown. For this reason, we address a possible role of the inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and TNFα in pemphigus lesions.

Methods  Sixteen biopsies from patients with different types of pemphigus were studied by in situ hybridization using DNA fluorescent probes for IL-6 and TNFα mRNA.

Results  Fifty-six percent of lesional biopsies exhibited cytokine gene expression, which was poorly expressed in noninvolved skin. Deposits of TNFα and IL-6 were products of in situ transcription at the epidermal level.

Conclusions  Inflammatory cytokine expression around the blister could play a mediator role in pemphigus lesions by increasing epithelial damage.