Key Driver of Atopic Dermatitis Discovered

Source: La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology

The fact that LIGHT acts upstream of periostin and is controlling its production really reinforces the idea that this is potentially a very good clinical target for treatment of atopic dermatitis and other inflammatory skin diseases ~ Senior Author Michael Croft, Ph.D.

Article Highlights:

  • Eczema/Atopic Dermatitis is driven by an allergic reaction
  • LIGHT – is a member of the necrosis factor (TNF) super family
  • It controls hyperproliferation of keratinocytes and the expression of periostin <– a protein directly linked to atopic dermatitis and other skin conditions like scleroderma
  • In other words – LIGHT is a key element in this study!
  • A therapeutic antibody that neutralizes LIGHT successfully suppressed disease symptoms, after they first appeared
  • Therapies blocking LIGHT may be a helpful treatment option for severe eczema
  • LIGHT is a cytokine (proteins that important in cell signalling) produced by T cells, functioning through HVEM and LTβR receptors.

ARE YOU STILL READING? Lots of scientific terms I know, but it’s truly fascinating stuff! Especially if this gets us we’re one step closer to figuring out a cure! 

The Study: Conducted by Croft Lab Instructor Rana Herro, Ph.D
– replicated human skin to mimic atopic dermatitis
– LIGHT deficient mice – displayed minimal symptoms compared to normal control mice
– same for animals that only lacked LIGHT-receptor HVEM in keratinocytes, the predominant cell type in the outermost layer of the skin

This is the important part of the study,” says Herro. ”Specifically deleting the receptor in keratinocytes was enough to abrogate disease

– LIGHT stimulates the proliferation of keratinoyctes and thus the structural remodeling of the skin.
– LIGHT induces the expression of periostin – This protein is highly expressed in the skin of atopic dermatitis.
– animal studies have found it is essential for skin inflammation, although exactly how it functions is still being debated.
– researchers went back and used an existing therapeutic antibody to block the interaction of LIGHT with its receptor, HVEM, after disease had already manifested.
– The antibody treatment suppressed inflammation and strongly reduced epidermal thickening.

That’s great news for patients suffering from eczema,” says Herro. “Our findings suggest that therapies that block LIGHT signaling might halt atopic dermatitis in humans and maybe even reverse disease symptoms.


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