Immunofluorescence mapping, electron microscopy and genetics in the diagnosis and sub-classification of inherited epidermolysis bullosa: a single-center retrospective comparative study of 87 cases with long-term follow-up

S Rossi, D Castiglia, E Pisaneschi, A Diociaiuti, A Stracuzzi, C Cesario, R Mariani, G Floriddia, G Zambruno, R Boldrini, D Abeni, A Novelli, R Alaggio, M El Hachem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) comprises a heterogeneous group of skin fragility disorders, classified in 4 major types based on skin cleavage level, i.e. EB simplex (EBS), junctional EB (JEB), dystrophic EB (DEB), Kindler EB, and in more than 30 subtypes defined by the combination of laboratory and clinical data, including disease course.

OBJECTIVES: Our aims were to address whether, in the age of genomics, electron microscopy (TEM) has still a role in diagnosing EB, and whether the genotype per se may be sufficient to sub-classify EB.

METHODS: A thoroughly characterized single-center EB case series was retrospectively evaluated to compare the power of TEM with immunofluorescence mapping (IFM) in establishing the EB type, and the ability of TEM, IFM and genetics to predict selected EB subtypes, i.e. severe dominant EBS (DEBS), severe JEB, severe recessive DEB (RDEB), and DEB self-improving, using genetic and final diagnosis, respectively, as gold standard.

RESULTS: The series consisted of 87 patients, including 44 newborns, with a median follow-up of 54 months. Ninety-five mutations were identified in EB-associated genes, including 25 novel variants. Both IFM and TEM were diagnostic in about all cases of JEB (21/21 for both) and DEB (43/44 for IFM, 44/44 for TEM). TEM sensitivity was superior to IFM for EBS (19/20 versus 16/19). As to EB subtyping, IFM performed better than genetics in identifying severe JEB cases due to laminin-332 defect (14/14 versus 10/14) and severe RDEB (8/9 versus 7/9). Genetics had no role in self-improving DEB diagnosis; it almost equaled TEM in predicting severe DEBS (8/9 versus 9/9), and enabled to discriminate dominant from recessive non-severe DEB phenotypes and to identify special subtypes, e.g. DEBS with KLHL24 mutations.

CONCLUSIONS: TEM remains relevant to the diagnosis of EBS. IFM and genetics are essential and complementary tools in the vast majority of EB cases.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 3 2020

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