Case Study

Bullous systemic lupus erythematosus with nephrotic syndrome in an adolescent girl: a case report


Bullous systemic lupus erythematosus is an uncommon autoimmune subepidermal vesiculobullous disease occurring in less than 5% of patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. The diagnosis of bullous systemic lupus erythematosus is based on clinical picture, histopathological findings, direct immunofluorescence and other immunologic tests. Importantly, establishing the diagnosis of bullous systemic lupus erythematosus requires the occurrence of systemic lupus erythematosus according to the American College of Rheumatology criteria. We report a case of bullous systemic lupus erythematosus in a 16-year-old Vietnamese girl, who demonstrated an acquired vesiculobullous eruption associated with nephrotic syndrome and fulfilled the European League Against Rheumatism/ American College of Rheumatology 2019 classification criteria of systemic lupus erythematosus. Clinical examination showed numerous tense, clear fluid-filled vesicles and bullae affecting the whole body with the predilection for the face, neck, chest, abdomen and bilateral inner thigh areas. Erosions were observed on the tongue and the buccal mucosa. Histopathologic examination showed subepidermal vesicle containing abundant neutrophils and perivascular mixed inflammatory cell infiltration. Microabscesses at tips of dermal papillae and the features of a leukocytoclastic vasculitis were not seen. Direct immunofluorescence of perilesional skin biopsies demonstrated linear deposition of IgG, IgA, IgM and C3 in the basement membrane zone. Linear immunoglobulin deposition displayed a u-serrated pattern with the predominant staining intensity of IgG. Serologic tests showed positive antinuclear antibody. Complement components assay revealed low levels of C3 (66.5 mg/dL) and C4 (3,9mg/dL). Proteinuria level was increased to 3.5g/24 hours. The final diagnosis of bullous systemic lupus erythematosus with nephrotic syndrome was made. The patient was treated with a high-dose oral glucocorticoid scheme and showed significant clinical improvement. 

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