Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Tumour necrosis factor α is expressed in refractory skin lesions from patients with subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus
  1. S Zampieri1,
  2. M Alaibac2,
  3. L Iaccarino2,
  4. R Rondinone3,
  5. A Ghirardello1,
  6. P Sarzi-Puttini3,
  7. A Doria1,
  8. A Peserico2
  1. 1Division of Rheumatology, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Padova, Italy
  2. 2Dermatology Unit, University of Padova, Italy
  3. 3Rheumatology Unit, L Sacco Hospital, University of Milan, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr A Doria
    Cattedra e U.O. di Reumatologia, Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, Policlinico Universitario, Via Giustiniani, 2, I-35128 Padova, Italy; adoria{at}


Objectives: To investigate whether tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) is expressed in subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE) skin lesions.

Methods: The in situ expression of TNFα in refractory lesional and non-lesional skin biopsy specimens from patients with SCLE was analysed using an immunohistochemical approach. At the time of biopsy these patients were receiving treatment with systemic medications such as antimalarial agents, immunosuppressive drugs, and thalidomide. Expression of TNFα was also evaluated in cutaneous lesions of patients with other inflammatory and neoplastic skin diseases as controls.

Results: The data showed that refractory lesional skin tissue from patients with SCLE displays a strongly positive distribution of TNFα, particularly within the epidermis. No prominent staining was seen in non-lesional skin from the same group of patients or in cutaneous lesions from the control group.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that TNFα is localised and produced by epidermal cells within SCLE skin lesions and support its potential role in the pathogenesis of SCLE. The tissue localisation of TNFα may represent a potential therapeutic target providing a new perspective in the treatment of refractory skin lesions in patients with SCLE.

  • APAAP, alkaline phosphatase anti-alkaline phosphatase
  • mAbs, monoclonal antibodies
  • PBS, phosphate buffered saline
  • SCLE, subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus
  • SLE, systemic lupus erythematosus
  • TNFα, tumour necrosis factor α
  • tumour necrosis factor
  • subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus
  • refractory skin lesions
  • immunohistochemistry
  • epidermis

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Published Online First 11 August 2005

  • Competing interest: None.

  • Ethics approval: This study was approved by the local ethics committee.