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Linear IgA disease (LAD) of adults and children is a dapsone-responsive, autoimmune subepidermal blistering disease characterized by linear IgA deposits at the basement membrane zone (BMZ) of the skin and mucosa. Circulating IgA antibodies to BMZ components are often present. In this study we investigated the ultrastructural localization of the antigens and autoantibodies in six patients with LAD (five adults and one child). Using a direct postembedding immunogold electron microscopy (EM) technique, three different patterns of IgA antibody deposition were seen in the skin of four patients with LAD. The IgA deposits localized within the uppermost part of the lamina lucida and to the basal surface of the hemidesmosome in two patients, to the lamina lucida in one, and to the lamina densa in the fourth patient. Using an indirect immunogold EM technique and serum or purified blister fluid from two additional LAD patients, we showed that the serum autoantibodies of one patient bound to the hemidesmosome of the BMZ, while the autoantibodies in the blister fluid of the other patient bound to the lamina densa and sublamina densa including the anchoring fibrils in a labelling pattern similar to that of the monoclonal antibody (LH7.2) to collagen VII. All the autoantibodies binding to the hemidesmosome or lamina lucida recognized a protein in epidermal extracts of molecular weight 180 kDa or its breakdown product of 97 kDa, 200 kDa or 230 kDa. The antibodies binding to the lamina densa recognized proteins of 180 and 285 kDa. The antibodies that bound to the lamina densa and anchoring fibrils recognized collagen VII. In this immunogold EM study we have shown four patterns of IgA labelling in six patients with LAD, associated with five different antigens as recognized by immunoblotting. These results, together with our previous immunofluorescence and immunoblotting findings add support to the contention that LAD is a heterogeneous disease as regards both the target antigens and epitopes.


Journal article


Br J Dermatol

Publication Date





591 - 597


Adult, Autoantibodies, Autoimmune Diseases, Basement Membrane, Child, Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect, Humans, Immunoblotting, Immunoglobulin A, Microscopy, Immunoelectron, Skin Diseases, Vesiculobullous