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Household Allergens Make Skin Vulnerable To Eczema

  March, 6 2008 10:44
your information resource in human molecular genetics

Dust mite and cockroach allergens aggravate the symptoms of eczema and similar diseases by disrupting skin barrier function, a study published online in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reports. The work provides a crucial step in understanding how the skin's defenses are weakened by allergens it encounters daily.

Over fifteen million Americans suffer from eczema, a chronic skin condition characterized by dry patches of extremely itchy skin. The most common form, atopic dermatitis affects between 10 and 20 percent of the world's population at some point during childhood. This study offers new insights into how common environmental triggers could contribute to this condition.

Using human volunteers, Seung Hun Lee and colleagues show that topically applied mite and cockroach allergens slowed skin barrier permeability recovery independent of an allergic response. The biological activity of mite and cockroach allergens disrupts skin permeability by activating PAR-2, a key receptor involved in maintaining skin barrier balance. Loss of skin barrier function causes increased inflammation and sensitivity to microbes and allergens. By delaying skin barrier restoration, mite and cockroach allergens could make the skin more susceptible to additional allergens and consequently trigger relapsing eczema lesions.

Author contact:

Seung Hun Lee (Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea)
E-mail: ydshderm@yumc.yonsei.ac.kr

Abstract available online.

(C)Journal of Investigative Dermatology press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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