Vesicular Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus in Dogs


Vesicular cutaneous lupus erythematosus (VCLE) is a variant form of cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) that affects predominantly adult rough collies, Shetland sheepdogs and Border collies. Distinctive cutaneous lesions consist of annular, polycyclic and/or serpiginous erosions and ulcerations, primarily affecting the axillae, ventral abdomen and groin with frequent involvement of mucocutaneous junctions and the concave aspects of the pinnae. Microscopic changes (skin biopsy) in dogs with VCLE reveal a lymphocyte-rich interface dermatitis with evidence of basal keratinocyte apoptosis, a pathology typical of CLE.

Currently, dogs with VCLE have guarded prognosis with some owners and veterinarians opting for euthanasia as effective treatment based on a large number of cases cannot be recommended. The most successful long-term therapeutic outcome, proposed on results from a case series of 11 VCLE cases, recommends usage of oral immunosuppressive doses of prednisone or methylprednisolone alone or in combination with azathioprine. Unfortunately, complete remission was achieved in only few cases with long-term adverse effects of systemic glucocorticoids being reported in all dogs receiving this therapeutic modality. Recently, single case reports of two dogs

diagnosed with VCLE showed excellent response and complete remission with long-term oral ciclosporin treatment. Recently, our retrospective investigation into the treatment of this sometimes debilitating skin disease in 11 dogs using calcineurin inhibitors, such as oral ciclosporin and/or topical tacrolimus, showed that this may be an effective and safe therapeutic option for canine VCLE patients.

Our objectives are to investigate the VCLE prevalence in Collies with a further goal of performing genome-wide association study to discover a genomic region linked to VCLE in Collies.

Additionally, we would like to try prospectively to evaluate the therapeutic effectiveness and any associated side effects of systemic and/or topical calcineurin inhibitors as well as hydroxychloroquine in the management of canine VCLE patients.

Please contact us (email) if your dog has a suspicious (based on history and clinical signs) or confirmed VCLE (based on history, clinical signs and skin biopsy results).

Our contact information is:

Frane Banovic & Robert Gogal

Immunodermatology Laboratory

College of Veterinary Medicine

2200 College Station Road

University of Georgia

30606, Athens, GA, USA


Go Back