Pemphigus antigens are normal squamous epithelial tissue constituents that are identified by their reaction with autoantibodies found in the serum of patients with active pemphigus vulgaris or any of the other types of pemphigus (i.e., vegetans, erythematosus, and foliaceous). The characteristic lesion of pemphigus is epidermal suprabasilar cell-cell detachment (acantholysis). It is important to note that pemphigus antigens are present in the intercellular substance (ICS) of stratified squamous epithelia where this process of acantholysis occurs. There is increasing evidence that pemphigus antigens are heterogenous, but whether this heterogeneity is due to the existence of different antigen molecules or different antigenic determinants on the same molecule is not yet clear. The use of the word antigens in this article does not imply commitment or rejection of any of these alternative explanations.
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