In vitro tannin acantholysis

Sarah Brenner*, Vincenzo Ruocco, Eleonora Ruocco, Adolfo Russo, Ethel Tur, Vincenza Luongo, Maria Luisa Lombardi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: Exogenous factors, such as certain drugs, may be involved in the induction of pemphigus. Other offenders sharing a similar chemical composition to these drugs may also play a role. Tannins with their considerable biologic activity were suggested as possible factors. To substantiate the role of tannins in the pathomechanism of pemphigus, the present study examined the acantholytic potential of tannins in vitro. Methods: Normal human breast skin from patients without any bullous disease was cultured for 3 days in the presence of tannic acid at concentrations of 0.02, 0.05, 0.1, 0.25, 0.5, 1.0, and 2.0 mM. The effect of the tannic acid was microscopically examined in a blind fashion by three independent investigators. Results: In addition to the cytotoxic effect, tannic acid caused marked acantholytic changes, with a clear suprabasal cleavage and intraepidermal acantholytic cells. The acantholytic changes were the most constant and specific effects. They were constantly observed at 1.0 and 2.0 mM, whereas lower concentrations showed changes only in some of the explants. The concentrations needed to exert this effect were notably low. There was a remarkable variability among the subjects who had provided the explants. Conclusions: The results suggest a possible role of tannin in the disease process of pemphigus. The tannin acantholytic potential was much greater than the potential of known acantholytic drugs, such as penicillamine and captopril. The interindividual variability in susceptibility to acantholysis may explain the variability in the individual potential for developing pemphigus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-742
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Dermatology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2000


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