Environmental Risk Factors in Endemic Pemphigus Foliaceus (Fogo Selvagem)

Valeria Aoki, Robert C. Millikan, Evandro A. Rivitti, Gunter Hans-Filho, Donald P. Eaton, Simon J.P. Warren, Ning Li, Julio Hilario-Vargas, Raymond G. Hoffmann, Luis A. Diaz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Scopus citations


An ongoing sero-epidemiological study of the Terena reservation of Limao Verde, known to have a high prevalence and incidence of FS, has revealed important information about this autoimmune disease. During surveillance of this population of approximately 1,200, which began in 1994, we documented 43 FS cases and studied the transition from the normal state to the disease state in several of these individuals. Furthermore, we established that FS patients as well as a large number of normal individuals on the reservation possess anti-dsg1 autoantibodies. The following interesting observations were made: (1) the ectodomain of dsg1 contains epitopes recognized by both autoantibodies and T cells from FS patients; (2) pathogenic anti-dsg1 autoantibodies in FS belong to the IgG4 subclass; (3) nonpathogenic anti-dsg1 autoantibodies of the IgG1 subclass were detected in normal individuals from Limao Verde and in patients in the preclinical stage of the disease; (4) anti-dsg1 autoantibodies from normal individuals and patients in the preclinical stage of FS recognize the EC5 domain of dsg1, whereas pathogenic anti-dsg1 autoantibodies bind the EC1/ EC2 domains; (5) houses of FS patients are rustic, with thatched roofs and walls and dirt floors; (6) there was a high frequency of hematophagous insects (bedbugs and kissing bugs) in the houses of FS patients; (7) previous studies revealed that the predominant black fly on this reservation belongs to the species Simunlium nigrimanum. These findings suggest that the environmental antigen(s) triggering the autoimmune response in FS may be linked to exposure to hematophagous insects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-40
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Autoantibodies
  • Autoimmunity
  • Desmoglein 1
  • Fogo Serlvagem
  • Pemphigus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology

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