Eosinophils are prominent in bullous pemphigoid (BP), and proteases secreted from these and other inflammatory cells may induce disruption of the basement membrane. We used in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry to localize the sites of 92-kD gelatinase expression in BP lesions. In all samples (20/20), a strong signal for gelatinase mRNA was detected only in eosinophils and was most pronounced where these cells accumulated at the floor of forming blisters. No other cells were positive for enzyme mRNA. Both eosinophils and neutrophils, however, contained immunoreactive 92-kD gelatinase indicating that active expression occurred only in eosinophils. Degranulated eosinophils were also seen near blisters, and as demonstrated by gelatin zymography, immunoblotting, and ELISA, 92-kD gelatinase protein was prominent in BP blister fluid. No other gelatinolytic activity was specifically detected in BP fluid, and only small amounts of 92-kD gelatinase were present in suction blister fluids. As demonstrated in vitro, 92-kD gelatinase cleaved the extracellular, collagenous domain of recombinant 180-kD BP autoantigen (BP180, BPAG2, HD4, type XVII collagen), a transmembrane molecule of the epidermal hemidesmosome. Our results suggest that production and release 92-kD gelatinase by eosinophils contributes significantly to tissue damage in BP.
M Ståhle-Bäckdahl, M Inoue, G J Guidice, W C Parks