Autoantibodies to the desmosomal proteins desmoglein 1 and 3 cause pemphigus foliaceus and pemphigus vulgaris, which are characterised by keratinocyte dissociation (acantholysis) and intraepidermal blister formation. The passive transfer of pathogenic anti-desmoglein antibodies induces blisters in mice in vivo and the loss of keratinocyte adhesion in vitro. The pathogenetic mechanisms of acantholysis due to anti-desmoglein autoantibodies are not fully understood. However, recent studies have revealed that signalling-dependent and signalling-independent pathways are operative in the loss of cell adhesion. In this review, we focus on the pathomechanism of acantholysis due to autoantibodies to desmogleins and recent therapeutic approaches.
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