Cutaneous Manifestations of Crohn's Disease, Its Spectrum, and Its Pathogenesis: Intracellular Consensus Bacterial 16S rRNA Is Associated with the Gastrointestinal but Not the Cutaneous Manifestations of Crohn's Disease Academic Article Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Lymphoma, T-Cell, Cutaneous
  • Precancerous Conditions
  • Skin Neoplasms


  • The classic pathology of skin disease discontinuous from the inflamed gastrointestinal (GI) tract in patients with Crohn's disease (CD) includes pyoderma gangrenosum (PG), erythema nodosum (EN), and so-called metastatic Crohn's disease. The purpose of this study was two-fold: First, we explored the full spectrum of cutaneous lesions associated with Crohn's disease, and second, we sought to explore a potential molecular basis of the skin lesions in patients with CD. In this regard, we analyzed skin and GI tract biopsies from affected patients for the consensus bacterial SrRNA to determine whether direct bacterial infection was associated with either condition. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded sections were studied and correlated to clinical presentation and histories from 33 patients with CD. Consensus bacterial RNA sequences were analyzed using an RT in situ PCR assay on both skin biopsy and GI biopsy material. The GI tract material included biopsies from 3 patients who had skin lesions and from 7 patients in whom there were no known skin manifestations. There were 8 cases of neutrophilic dominant dermal infiltrates, including pyoderma gangrenosum, 6 cases of granuloma annulare/necrobiosis lipoidica-like lesions, 5 cases of sterile neutrophilic folliculitis, 5 cases of panniculitis, 4 cases of vasculitis, 2 cases of psoriasis, 2 cases of lichenoid and granulomatous inflammation, and 1 case of classic metastatic CD. Intracellular bacterial 16S rRNA was detected in 8 of 10 tissues of active CD in the GI tract, of which 3 of the cases tested were from patients who also developed skin lesions at some point in their clinical course; in contrast, none of the skin biopsies had detectable bacterial RNA. The dermatopathological manifestations of CD discontiguous from the involved GI tract mucosa have in common a vascular injury syndrome, typically with a prominent extravascular neutrophilic and/or histiocytic dermal infiltrate. In addition, this study, the first to document in situ intracellular consensus bacterial SrRNA in the GI tract in CD, suggests that hematogenous dissemination of viable microbes is not associated with the cutaneous manifestations of this disease. Bacteria do, however, appear to play a role in bowel lesions of patients with CD.

publication date

  • November 2003



  • Academic Article


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/S0046-8177(03)00428-3

PubMed ID

  • 14652821

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 1185

end page

  • 92


  • 34


  • 11