Dermatitis herpetiformis is associated with the HLA-B8/DRw3 haplotype in over 90 per cent of patients, and various percentages have been reported to have circulating immune complexes. Since removal of immune complexes from the circulation is thought to depend on the Fc-receptor function of tissue macrophages, we studied this function by measuring the clearance of IgG-sensitized autologous erythrocytes in 16 patients with dermatitis herpetiformis, in normal controls with the HLA-B8/DRw3 haplotype, and in randomly selected controls. All patients were HLA-B8 positive, and all of 12 patients tested were HLA-DRw3 positive. Erythrocyte clearance was reduced in eight of the 16 patients, but did not correlate with immune-complex levels. Four of eight controls with HLA-B8/DRw3 also had delayed Fc-receptor-mediated clearance as compared with normal controls. In addition, both patients and HLA-B8/DRw3-positive controls had decreased percentages and total numbers of T cells bearing Fc receptors for IgG. These findings indicate a functional Fc-receptor defect associated with the HLA-B8/DRw3 antigens.
Adult • Aged • Antigen-Antibody Complex • Dermatitis Herpetiformis • Female • HLA Antigens • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II • Humans • Male • Middle Aged • Receptors, Fc • T-Lymphocytes • analysis • analysis* • immunology • immunology*