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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
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Identification of clinical and immunological factors associated with clinical relapse of pemphigus vulgaris in remission


1 Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
2 Department of Endocrinology (Division of Immunology), Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
3 Department of Histopathology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
4 Department of Biostatistics, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

Correspondence Address:
Dipankar De,
Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Sector 12, Chandigarh . 160 012
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijdvl.IJDVL_89_19

PMID: 31898637

Background: Pemphigus vulgaris is a potentially fatal autoimmune epidermal blistering disease with a chronic and relapsing course. It is difficult to predict clinical relapse. Identification of clinical and immunological factors that are associated with early clinical relapse in a prospective study design may help in planning treatment for better maintenance of clinical remission. Aim: The aim of our study was to identify clinical and immunological factors associated with clinical relapse within 9 months of study inclusion in patients with pemphigus vulgaris in clinical remission. Methods: Forty consecutive consenting patients who had been diagnosed to have pemphigus vulgaris and were in clinical remission on minimal therapy or off therapy were included. The patients were followed up every 3 months until 9 months. Clinical factors considered relevant were recorded at the beginning of the study. Immunological factors such as CD19+ B-cell count and CD19+CD27+ memory B cells/plasma cell count in peripheral blood were assessed at baseline [anti-desmoglein (Dsg) 1 and 3 titers were first assessed at 3 months, not at baseline] and repeated every 3 months, until 9 months or clinical relapse whichever was earlier. Direct immunofluorescence (DIF) of skin biopsy specimen was performed at study initiation and again at the time of clinical relapse or study completion, whichever occurred earlier. All patients completed the study. Results: Of 40 patients, 11 (27.5%) experienced relapse as per definition, while 29 (72.5%) remained in complete remission. Clinical relapse during study duration was significantly more common in those who had onset of disease in oral mucosa [odds ratio (OR), 10.71; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.21–94.86, P = 0.02], pruritus (OR 8.4; 95% CI 1.76–40.02, P = 0.01), and extensive cutaneous involvement during previous disease activity (OR 7.36; 95% CI 1.34–40.55, P = 0.03) and also pruritus during remission (P = 0.004). Immunological factors found to be significantly associated with early clinical relapse were raised CD19+ B-cell count at baseline (OR 7.84; 95% CI 1.39 – 53.41, P = 0.01), immunoglobulin G (OR 4.85; 95% CI 1.09–23.44, P = 0.04), and C3 (OR 20.33; 95% CI 3.02–199.5, P < 0.001) positivity in the intercellular space of the epidermis on DIF at study onset and rising anti-Dsg 3 antibody titers (OR 19.96; 95% CI 1.85- 310.9, P = 0.03). Limitations: Limited sample size, short follow-up duration, and inability to perform anti-Dsg enzyme linked immunosorbent assay for all the patients at all the time points of assessment are limitations of this study. Conclusion: Immunological relapse can be determined before clinical relapse, so that treatment can be restarted/modified and clinical remission can be maintained.


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    -  Guliani A
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    -  Handa S
    -  Mahajan R
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