Missing Insight Into T and B Cell Responses in Dermatitis Herpetiformis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

5 Downloads (Pure)


Dermatitis herpetiformis is a cutaneous form of celiac disease manifesting as an itching rash typically on the elbows, knees and buttocks. It is driven by the ingestion of gluten-containing cereals and characterized by granular deposits of immunoglobulin A in the papillary dermis. These antibodies target transglutaminase (TG) 3 and in the majority of patients they are also found in circulation. The circulating antibodies disappear and skin symptoms resolve as a result of gluten-free diet but the cutaneous anti-TG3 IgA deposits may persist for several years. In dermatitis herpetiformis, plasma cells secreting antibodies against TG3 are located in the intestinal mucosa similarly to those producing TG2 antibodies characteristic for celiac disease. In fact, both TG2- and TG3-specific plasma cells and gluten responsive T cells are found in dermatitis herpetiformis patients but the interplay between these cell populations is unknown. The small bowel mucosal damage in celiac disease is believed to be mediated by co-operation of cytotoxic intraepithelial T cells and the inflammatory milieu contributed by gluten-reactive CD4+ T cells, whereas the skin lesions in dermatitis herpetiformis appear to be devoid of gluten reactive T cells. Thus, how celiac disease-type intestinal T and B cell responses develop into an autoimmune condition affecting the skin is still incompletely understood. Finally, the skin and small bowel lesions may reappear upon reintroduction of gluten in patients treated with gluten-free diet but virtually nothing is known about the long-lived B cell and memory T cell populations activating in response to dietary gluten in dermatitis herpetiformis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number657280
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • B cell
  • celiac disease
  • dermatitis herpetiformis
  • epitope spreading
  • T cell
  • transglutaminase

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


Dive into the research topics of 'Missing Insight Into T and B Cell Responses in Dermatitis Herpetiformis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this