Turkish Journal of Pathology

Türk Patoloji Dergisi

Turkish Journal of Pathology

Turkish Journal of Pathology

2024, Vol 40, Num, 1     (Pages: 010-015)

Is it Possible to Obtain Immunofluorescence Data in Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded Skin Samples for the Diagnosis of Pemphigus Vulgaris and Bullous Pemphigoid


1 Department of Pathology, Hacettepe University, Faculty of Medicine, ANKARA, TURKEY

DOI: 10.5146/tjpath.2023.01607
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Objective: The gold-standard method for assessment of autoimmune bullous disease is direct/indirect immunofluorescence (IF) examination applied to fresh frozen tissue. Since the sensitivity of IF is greatly reduced in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues, IF cannot be relied upon in these samples. However, immunohistochemistry with the C4d antibody is a promising marker used as a surrogate for immune complex deposition, in nephropathology practice, and the paraffin IF method is also used as a `salvage` technique when fresh frozen tissue is not available or lacks glomeruli. We aimed to investigate whether it is possible to obtain immunofluorescence data from FFPE tissues diagnosed with bullous pemphigoid (BP) and pemphigus vulgaris (PV) and its relationship with inflammatory parameters in the skin.

Material and Methods: Eighty-nine in-house cases with both IgG and C3 positivity by routine immunofluorescence examination were included in the study. Inflammation parameters were evaluated in hematoxylin-eosin sections. Immunofluorescence study with IgG protease digestion and C4d immunohistochemistry were performed.

Results: Results of 83 biopsies were obtained by paraffin immunofluorescence with IgG. There were positive reactions in 28 (34%) of these 83 biopsies. Five of the 28 positive results belonged to BP (18%), and 23 were PV (82%). Ten positive results were on lesional skin (36%), and 18 (64%) were on non-lesional skin. In the immunohistochemical study with C4d, 84 biopsy results were obtained. There were positive reactions in 34 (40.4%) of 84 biopsies. Of the 34 positive results, 12 belonged to BP (35.3%) and 22 to PV (64.7%). Again, 22 (64.7%) of 34 positive results belonged to lesional skin, and 12 (35.3%) belonged to non-lesional skin. When both techniques were used together, 44 (54%) of 81 biopsies yielded positive results for at least one of the two studies, while in 37 (46%), both tests showed negative results.

Conclusion: The sensitivity of both IgG and C4d was less than in the literature, especially in BP-diagnosed biopsies. Positive samples were mostly PV. In conclusion, obtaining immunofluorescence data in FFPE samples is possible and is independent of the related skin being lesional or not, however, negative results should not be relied upon.

Keywords : Protease digestion, IgG, Pemphigus vulgaris, Bullous pemphigoid, C4d