Bullous pemphigoid (BP) is the most common autoimmune subepidermal blistering disease in Western countries, and typically affects the elderly. BP is immunologically characterized by tissue-bound and circulating autoantibodies directed against either the BP antigen 180 (BP180, or BPAG2) or the BP antigen 230 (BP230, or BPAG1e), or even both, which are components of hemidesmosomes involved in the dermal-epidermal cohesion. Risk factors for BP include old age, neurologic diseases (dementia, Parkinson's disease, cerebrovascular disease), and some particular drugs, including loop diuretics, spironolactone and neuroleptics. The spectrum of clinical presentations is extremely broad. Clinically, BP is an intensely pruritic erythematous eruption with widespread blister formation. In the early stages, or in atypical, non-bullous variants of the disease, only excoriated, eczematous or urticarial lesions (either localized or generalized) are present. The diagnosis of BP relies on immunopathologic findings, especially based on both direct and indirect immunofluorescence microscopy observations, as well as on anti-BP180/BP230 enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs). BP is usually a chronic disease, with spontaneous exacerbations and remissions, which may be accompanied by significant morbidity. In the past decade, potent topical corticosteroids have emerged as an effective and safe first-line treatment for BP, but their long-term feasibility is still controversial. Newer therapeutic agents targeting molecules involved in the inflammatory cascade associated with BP represent future alternatives to classical immunosuppressant drugs for maintenance therapy.

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