Background: Pemphigus is a group of autoimmune blistering diseases affecting skin and mucous membranes. While pemphigus is an autoantibody mediated disease, the role of T cells and cytokines in the pathogenesis is being increasingly recognized. Objective: This study was conducted to observe alterations in the serum cytokine levels of patients with pemphigus vulgaris (PV), pemphigus foliaceous (PF), paraneoplastic pemphigus (PNP) and compare with bullous pemphigoid (BP) and healthy subjects. Methods: A total of 75 subjects (28 PV, 13 PF, 7 PNP, 7 BP, and 20 healthy controls) were included, all patients in active disease state. Serum levels of interferon (IFN)-γ, interleukin (IL)-4, IL-6, IL-17A, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and IL-8 were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results: The median concentration of IFN-γ was lower in PV and BP patients compared to control (0.77, 0.34 and 1.63 pg/ml, respectively). IL-6 and IL-10 was significantly higher in PNP patients compared to control (4.92 and 0.24 pg/ml for IL-6, 0.86 and 0.12 pg/ml for IL-10, respectively). IL-8 was increased significantly in PV and PNP patients compared with control (11.85, 31.5 and 8.31 pg/ml, respectively). For IL-4, IL-17A and TNF-α, no significant difference was observed between the five groups. Conclusion: The decreased level of IFN-γ in PV may imply suppressed Th1 response in the active disease stage. A Th2 predominant response is suggested in the active stage of PNP, with elevated serum levels of IL-6 and IL-10. Increased level of proinflammatory cytokine IL-8 is observed in the sera of PV and PNP patients.
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