, Volume 299, Issue 4, pp 213-219,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 03 Apr 2007

Lichen planus remission is associated with a decrease of human herpes virus type 7 protein expression in plasmacytoid dendritic cells


The cause of lichen planus is still unknown. Previously we showed human herpes virus 7 (HHV-7) DNA and proteins in lesional lichen planus skin, and significantly less in non-lesional lichen planus, psoriasis or healthy skin. Remarkably, lesional lichen planus skin was infiltrated with plasmacytoid dendritic cells. If HHV-7 is associated with lichen planus, then HHV-7 replication would reduce upon lichen planus remission. HHV-7 DNA detection was performed by nested PCR and HHV-7 protein by immunohistochemistry on lesional skin biopsies from lichen planus patients before treatment and after remission. Biopsies were obtained from lichen planus lesions before treatment (n = 18 patients) and after remission (n = 13). Before treatment 61% biopsies contained HHV-7 DNA versus 8% after remission (P = 0.01). HHV-7-protein positive cell numbers diminished significantly after remission in both dermis and epidermis. Expression of HHV-7 was mainly detected in BDCA-2 positive plasmacytoid dendritic cells rather than CD-3 positive lymphocytes. HHV-7 replicates in plasmacytoid dendritic cells in lesional lichen planus skin and diminishes after remission. This study further supports our hypothesis that HHV-7 is associated with lichen planus pathogenesis.