Evidence for pathogenicity of autoreactive T cells in autoimmune bullous diseases shown by animal disease models


Correspondence: Hideyuki Ujiie, MD, PhD, Department of Dermatology, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, N.15 W.7, Kita-ku, Sapporo 060-8638, Japan, Tel.: +81-11-706-7387, Fax: +81-11-706-7820, e-mail: h-ujiie@med.hokudai.ac.jp


Autoimmune bullous diseases (AIBDs) are characterized by blisters and erosions on the skin and/or mucous membranes, which are caused by autoantibodies directed to structural proteins of the epidermis and the epidermal basement membrane zone. This Viewpoint Essay discusses the contribution by autoreactive T cells to the pathogenesis of bullous pemphigoid, pemphigus and epidermolysis bullosa acquisita, with an emphasis on studies using active animal mouse models for these diseases. Previous studies have demonstrated that cytokines produced by autoreactive T cells, the interaction between antigen-specific T cells and B cells and the function of regulatory T cells are likely related to the pathogenesis of AIBDs. In interpreting the experimental results, the limitations of those animal models should be considered. Further understanding of the pathogenicity of autoreactive CD4+ T cells may lead to disease-specific treatments.