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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Inherited epidermolysis bullosa

Jo-David Fine

Author Affiliations

Departments of Medicine (Dermatology) and Pediatrics Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and Head, National Epidermolysis Bullosa Registry Nashville, TN, USA

Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2010, 5:12  doi:10.1186/1750-1172-5-12

Published: 28 May 2010

Abstract

Inherited epidermolysis bullosa (EB) encompasses a number of disorders characterized by recurrent blister formation as the result of structural fragility within the skin and selected other tissues. All types and subtypes of EB are rare; the overall incidence and prevalence of the disease within the United States is approximately 19 per one million live births and 8 per one million population, respectively. Clinical manifestations range widely, from localized blistering of the hands and feet to generalized blistering of the skin and oral cavity, and injury to many internal organs. Each EB subtype is known to arise from mutations within the genes encoding for several different proteins, each of which is intimately involved in the maintenance of keratinocyte structural stability or adhesion of the keratinocyte to the underlying dermis. EB is best diagnosed and subclassified by the collective findings obtained via detailed personal and family history, in concert with the results of immunofluorescence antigenic mapping, transmission electron microscopy, and in some cases, by DNA analysis. Optimal patient management requires a multidisciplinary approach, and revolves around the protection of susceptible tissues against trauma, use of sophisticated wound care dressings, aggressive nutritional support, and early medical or surgical interventions to correct whenever possible the extracutaneous complications. Prognosis varies considerably and is based on both EB subtype and the overall health of the patient.