Background: Dermatologic diseases with autoantibodies were recognized early as autoimmunity became accepted as a pathogenic immunologic concept. Laboratory testing to identify disease-defining autoantibodies and investigate their role in pathophysiology has evolved since.
Content: Blistering dermatologic diseases, profiled by autoantibody production, target epithelial components critical in cell–cell and cell–matrix adhesion, resulting in epithelial separation and other characteristic features of the disorders. This review covers the clinical indications for dermatologic disease-related autoantibody testing, the specifics of procuring specimens to test, the available diagnostic tests, and information provided by the testing. Atypical, uncharacteristic, and less well-known clinical and autoantibody profiles as well as several of the many future prospects for expansion of the testing applications are elaborated on in the online Data Supplement.
Summary: Autoantibody-associated dermatologic diseases are acquired immunologic disorders that have considerable clinical implications affecting essential barrier functions of skin and mucous membranes and causing discomfort, including pain and pruritus. Certain of the diseases can have life-threatening manifestations, and treatments can have significant side-effects. The skin diseases may presage other clinical associations that are important to recognize and treat. Laboratory testing aids in the diagnosis of these diseases through identification of the autoantibodies and is essential for prompt and precise knowledge of the disease type for prognosis, further clinical evaluations, and treatment decisions.