Epidermolysis Bullosa Simplex, Migratory Circinate


Disease group Epithelial adhesion disorders
Synonymous None
Estimated prevalence Unknown
OMIM 609352
Inheritance Autosomal dominant
Gene (s) KRT5 (148040)


The term epidermolysis bullosa (EB) describes a clinically and genetically heterogeneous spectrum of rare inherited conditions that are characterized by a marked mechanical fragility of epithelial tissues with blistering and erosions occurring after minor trauma. There are four major types of EB: EB simplex (EBS), dystrophic EB (DEB), junctional EB (JEB), and Kindler-sydrome. Except for Kindler-syndrome, each major EB-type is further subclassified [1]. EB is based on mutations involving at least 15 structural genes expressed within the epidermis and the basement membrane zone (BMZ) [2, 3] (Figure 1). Besides the structural genes, MMP1 (collagenase-1) has been identified as a modifier of severity in dystrophic EB [4, 5]. In addition to the skin involvement, many EB forms present as a multisystemic disease associated with numerous extracutaneous manifestations. Secondary complications like chronic inflammation, chronic wound healing and scarring can result in severe impairments like pseudosyndactyly and mitten formation as well as life threatening forms of cancer, like squamous cell carcinoma in DEB [6].

Epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS) is the most common type of EB. It can be further divided into basal and suprabasal subtypes with generalized and localized phenotypes, involving desmosomal genes, keratin genes, integrins and the plectin gene. EBS with circinate migratory (EBS-migr) is a rare subtype of EBS. It was only described in two families, and it is caused by a mutation in the KRT5 gene [7].

Figure 1. Schematic representation of EB-causing components. ©graphic design by R. Hametner.

Schematic of the basement membrane zone (BMZ). Intermediate filaments composed of keratin 5 and 14 insert on the keratin (cytoskeletal) linker proteins plectin and BPAG1 (BP230) at the superior aspect of the BMZ. Plectin and BPAG1 interact with transmembrane α6β4 integrin and type XVII collagen (BP180/BPAG2), forming hemidesmosomes that attach basal keratinocytes to the underlying basement membrane. Anchoring filaments reach out below the hemidesmosome and include laminin-332 and laminin-311 that associate with type XVII collagen and α6β4 integrin, but also laminin-511, type IV collagen and nidogen, thereby forming the lamina densa. Anchoring fibrils extend as banded projections from the lamina densa and contain type VII collagen molecules. Type VII collagen triple helices attach the lamina densa to papillary dermis and are critical for the integrity of the epidermal-dermal junction through their ability to bind laminin-332.

Clinical Description

All EBS subtypes are characterized by trauma- or friction- induced skin blistering with either localized or generalized distribution. With only rare exceptions, blisters arise within the basal cell layer of the epidermis. Onset of the disease is usually at birth or shortly after birth, except for localized patients, who often develop blisters not until late childhood or early adulthood. Localized variants can present with a very subtle phenotype and thus may be underdiagnosed. Unless there is a secondary infection, erosions usually heal without scarring, but may leave hyperpigmentation. Additional clinical features like nail dystrophy, nail shedding and alopecia, are usually uncommon within the entire EBS group compared to other forms of EB. Mucosal involvement is rarely seen. High ambient temperatures or sweating (summer) are often aggravating factors [6].

EBS-migr was described in two families. It appears to be phenotypically milder than EBS-generalized severe. It is characterized by belt-like areas of erythema with multiple vesicles and small blisters at the advancing edge of erythema. Lesions appear from birth primarily on hands, feet and legs. Nails and mucosa were not affected. The lesions healed with brown pigmentation, but without scarring [7].


EBS-migr is caused by a 1649delG mutation in the KRT5 gene [7].


Ultrastructural findings are distinct from EBS-generalized severe, and show a reduction in the number of keratin filaments, but without keratin filament aggregation [7].


Management of all EBS variants starts with prevention of blister formation in everyday life, e.g., by appropriate clothing. Large blisters can cause pain and should be opened, in order to release the pressure from surrounding tissue. When the skin at the roof of a blister has been removed, special wound care is necessary, using non adhesive dressings. Prevention of wound infection is paramount. Antibiotics, such as tetracyclines, have been reported to reduce blister formation in some EBS patients [8].


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Fine JD. (2010) Inherited epidermolysis bullosa. Orphanet J Rare Dis 5:12.

Pigors M, Kiritsi D, Krümpelmann S, Wagner N, He Y, Podda M, Kohlhase J, Hausser I, Bruckner-Tuderman L, Has C. (2011) Lack of plakoglobin leads to lethal congenital epidermolysis bullosa: a novel clinico-genetic entity. Hum Mol Genet 20:1811-1819.

Titeux M, Pendaries V, Tonasso L, Décha A, Bodemer C, Hovnanian A. (2008) A frequent functional SNP in the MMP1 promoter is associated with higher disease severity in recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa. Hum Mutat 29:267-276.

Kern JS, Grüninger G, Imsak R, Müller ML, Schumann H, Kiritsi D, Emmert S, Borozdin W, Kohlhase J, Bruckner-Tuderman L, Has C. (2009) Forty-two novel COL7A1 mutations and the role of a frequent single nucleotide polymorphism in the MMP1 promoter in modulation of disease severity in a large European dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa cohort. Br J Dermatol 161:1089-97.

Fine JD, Hintner H. (2008) Life with Epidermolysis Bullosa. Springer, Vienna.

Gu LH, Kim SC, Ichiki Y, Park J, Nagai M, Kitajima Y. (2005) A usual frameshift and delayed termination codon mutation in keratin 5 causes a novel type of epidermolysis bullosa simplex with migratory circinate erythema. J Invest Dermatol 121:482-485.

Veien NK, Buus SK. (2000) Treatment of epidermolysis bullosa simplex (EBS) with tetracycline. Arch Dermatol 136:424-425.