To investigate whether ultrastructural changes present in clinically normal oral mucosa could occur in the mucosas of patients with endemic pemphigus foliaceus (EPF) or fogo selvagem (wildfire).
Surgical biopsy specimens were taken from the foreskin of 8 patients with EPF and 3 control subjects, the uterine cervix and vaginal wall of 9 patients with EPF and 2 controls, and the oral mucosa of 5 patients with EPF and 4 controls. The patients received a clinical and histopathologic diagnosis of EPF and all had clinically normal oral and genital mucosas.
In the patients with EPF, widening of the intercellular spaces and distended, elongated cytoplasmic projections, the tips of which contained desmosomes and were sometimes disassembled, were evident in all 4 regions studied. At the periphery of the spinous cells, cytoplasmic vesicles apparently containing intact or fragments of desmosomes or half-desmosomes were seen.
The ultrastructural lesions found in the mucosas studied are similar to those previously described in the literature for the oral mucosa of patients with EPF. In the cases of EPF, even though the desmosomal changes occurred in all epithelial layers, blisters did not occur in the mucosas by possible coexpression of desmoglein 1 and desmoglein 3.