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Summary

Background.  The acrosyringium is the target for inflammation in the chronic and intensely inflammatory skin disease palmoplantar pustulosis (PPP). The sweat-gland apparatus seems to be an immunocompetent structure that probably contributes to skin defence. Furthermore, the sweat gland and duct may be a hitherto unrecognized neuroendocrine organ.

Aim.  To obtain further information about the neuroendocrine properties of the sweat-gland apparatus by examining expression of the somatostatin receptors (SSTRs) 1–5 in healthy palmar skin and in PPP skin.

Methods.  Biopsy specimens were taken from 25 patients with PPP and 25 healthy controls. Immunohistochemical analysis was used to investigate expression of SSTRs 1–5.

Results.  SSTRs 1–5 were expressed in both epidermal and endothelial structures. The staining intensity of the sweat-gland apparatus was more pronounced than that of the epidermis. Expression differed significantly between lesional PPP and normal plantar skin, with increased expression of SSTRs 3 and 4 in ducts in epidermis, and decreased expression of SSTR 1 in ducts in both papillary and reticular dermis. In specimens with pronounced inflammation, numerous dendritic cells with strong expression of SSTRs 1, 2 and 4 were seen, especially in the papillary dermis.

Conclusions.  The presence of SSTRs in palmoplantar skin, and specifically at high density in the sweat glands and ducts, might be of particular importance in skin neuroimmunoendocrinology. Although the relevance of the changes in SSTR expression in PPP skin compared with normal skin is unclear, our hypothesis is that these differences might influence the function of both the neuroendocrine and neuroimmunological properties of palmoplantar skin, especially in the sweat-gland apparatus.