Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common chronic skin inflammatory disease, with a profound impact on patients' quality of life. AD varies considerably in clinical course, age of onset and degree to which it is accompanied by allergic and non-allergic comorbidities. Skin barrier impairment in both lesional and nonlesional skin is now recognized as a critical and often early feature of AD. This may be explained by a number of abnormalities identified within both the stratum corneum and stratum granulosum layers of the epidermis. The goal of this review is to provide an overview of key barrier defects in AD, starting with a historical perspective. We will also highlight some of the commonly used methods to characterize and quantify skin barrier function. There is ample opportunity for further investigative work which we call out throughout this review. These include: quantifying the relative impact of individual epidermal abnormalities and putting this in a more holistic view with physiological measures of barrier function, as well as determining whether these barrier-specific endotypes predict clinical phenotypes (e.g. age of onset, natural history, comorbidities, response to therapies, etc). Mechanistic studies with new (and in development) AD therapies that specifically target immune pathways, Staphylococcus aureus abundance and/or skin barrier will help us understand the dynamic crosstalk between these compartments and their relative importance in AD.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a heterogenous disorder and can be classified into different types. Stratification of subtypes may enable personalized medicine approaches. AD can be categorized into the IgE-high, extrinsic subtype and the IgE-normal, intrinsic subtype. While extrinsic AD is the major subtype possessing skin barrier impairment (high incidence of filaggrin mutations), intrinsic AD occupies about 20% of AD with female dominance and preserved barrier. Extrinsic AD exhibits protein allergy and food allergy, but intrinsic AD shows metal allergy possibly in association with suprabasin deficiency. In particular, accumulated knowledge of food allergy has more clearly characterized extrinsic AD. European American (EA) and Asian AD subtypes have been also proposed. Asian patients with AD are characterized by a unique blended immune dysregulation and barrier feature phenotype between EA patients with AD and those with psoriasis. In another ethnic study, filaggrin loss-of-function mutations are not prevalent in African American patients with AD, and Th1/Th17 attenuation and Th2/Th22 skewing were seen in these patients. Recent endotype classification provides new insights for AD and other allergic disorders. Endotype is defined as the molecular mechanisms underlying the visible features/phenotype. Endotype repertoire harbors activation of type 2 cytokines, type 1 cytokines, and IL-17/IL-22, impairment of epidermal barrier, and abnormalities of intercellular lipids. Classification of endotype has been attempted with serum markers. These lines of evidence indicate a need for personalized or precision medicine appropriate for each subtype of AD.
The number of patients with atopic dermatitis is on the rise worldwide, and Japan is no exception. According to recent estimates of the percentage of patients with atopic dermatitis in Japan by age, the majority of patients are between 20 and 44 years old. Because the peak age of onset of atopic dermatitis is during infancy, many patients may experience prolonged symptoms from infancy to adulthood. A prolonged clinical course also increases the burden of atopic dermatitis on affected patients. Decreased productivity due to work disruptions, reduced daily activity, higher direct medical costs, fatigue, and daytime sleepiness due to sleep disturbances are typical burdens on patients with atopic dermatitis. In order to reduce these burdens, it is necessary to shorten its clinical course and achieve long-term control without relying on medications, possibly by using avoidance or coping measures of aggravating factors. Typical aggravating factors of atopic dermatitis include irritant dermatitis, food allergy in children, sweating, and psychological stress in adults. Food allergy places a heavy burden on the quality of life of affected patients and their families. The effectiveness of educational interventions for sweating and psychological stress is unclear. We must also evaluate the economic burden and cost-effectiveness of interventions on the patient as aggravating factors to be addressed.
The skin microbiome is a key component of pathogenesis in atopic dermatitis (AD). The skin of AD patients is characterized by microbial dysbiosis, with a reduction of microbial diversity and overrepresentation of pathogenic Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). Recent exciting studies have elucidated an importance of establishing an appropriate immune response to microbes in early life and uncovered the new mechanisms of microbial community dynamics in modulating our skin microbiome. Several microbes are associated with AD pathogenesis, with proposed pathogenic effects from S. aureus and Malassezia. The complex relationships between microbes within the skin microbiome consortia includes various species, such as Staphylococcal, Roseomonas and Cutibacterium strains, that can inhibit S. aureus and are potential probiotics for AD skin. Numerous microbes are now also reported to modulate host response via communication with keratinocytes, specialized immune cells and adipocytes to improve skin health and barrier function. This increased understanding of skin microbiota bioactives has led to new biotherapeutic approaches that target the skin surface microenvironment for AD treatment.
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is characterized by chronic, eczematous, severe pruritic skin lesions. The knowledge on the pathogenesis of AD is driving the development of new drugs. From the research results, it has been revealed that Th2 cell-mediated immunity, skin barrier dysfunction, and pruritus cause a vicious cycle of AD. On the other hand, the Janus kinase (JAK)/signal transducers and activators of transcription (STAT) pathway are one of the essential signaling pathways in various inflammatory diseases including AD. In particular, TSLP, IL-4, IL-13 and IL-22 occupy an important position for Th2 cell-mediated immune reaction. Moreover, experimentally pan-JAK inhibitor suppress the STAT3 activation and improved the skin barrier function. Furthermore TSLP, IL-4, IL-13 and IL-31 contribute a lot to chronic pruritus of AD, and transmitted via JAK-STAT pathway. Therefore, JAK inhibitors are promising candidates for the treatment of severe AD. Here we review clinical trials of topical dergocitinib; a pan-JAK inhibitor, ruxolitinib; a JAK1 and JAK2 inhibitor, and tofacitinib; a JAK1, JAK2, and JAK3 inhibitor and oral baricitinib; a JAK1 and JAK2 inhibitor, abrocitinib and upadacitinib; JAK1 inhibitor. Significant improvements in the symptoms were obtained by each drug with low frequency of adverse events. In particular, oral JAK inhibitors have the ability to improve the pruritus and skin symptoms quickly. Therefore, the emergence of these topical and oral JAK inhibitors would be regarded as an innovation in the treatment of atopic dermatitis.
Background: In Japan, regional differences in asthma mortality have been reported; however, regional differences in asthma exacerbations have not been studied extensively. Therefore, using a health insurance claims database, we investigated the regional differences in the incidence of asthma exacerbations in Japan.
Methods: This study used data from Medi-Scope (Japan Medical Information Research Institute Inc., Japan)-a nationwide health insurance claims database. Patients with asthma at the index date (the latest date of an asthma-related prescription with an asthma diagnosis before October 1, 2018) were included in the analysis. The pre-index period was defined as 1 year before the index date, and the follow-up period as 1 year after the index date. The incidence of asthma exacerbation events was analyzed for each region.
Results: The primary analysis population comprised 24,883 patients who were continuously prescribed ICS or ICS/LABA at least four times during the pre-index period. The incidence rate of asthma exacerbations with hospitalization was the highest in Chugoku (2.95/100 person-years [95% CI, 1.97-4.43]) and the lowest in Kanto (1.52/100 person-years [95% CI, 1.26-1.83]). The incidence rate of asthma exacerbations for the composite outcome of hospitalization, injectable corticosteroid prescription, and oral corticosteroid burst was the highest in Fukui (105.00/100 person-years [95% CI, 64.53-170.85]) and the lowest in Nagasaki (15.69/100 person-years [95% CI, 10.84-22.72]).
Conclusions: Regional differences in the incidence of asthma exacerbations as well as their treatments were observed in Japan.
Background: Although population studies have implicated emotional burden in asthma severity, the underlying genetic risk factors are not completely understood. We aimed to evaluate the genetic influence of a functional single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the stress-related μ-opioid receptor gene (OPRM1; A118G SNP, rs1799971) on asthma severity.
Methods: We initially assessed disease severity in asthmatic outpatients carrying A118G. Using an ovalbumin-induced experimental asthma rodent model harboring the functionally equivalent SNP, we investigated the mechanism by which this SNP influences the allergic immune response.
Results: Among 292 outpatients, 168 underwent airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) to methacholine testing. Compared with patients carrying the AA and AG genotypes, those carrying the GG genotype exhibited enhanced AHR. The stress levels were presumed to be moderate among patients and were comparable among genotypes. Compared with Oprm1 AA mice, GG mice demonstrated aggravated asthma-related features and increased pulmonary interleukin-4+CD4+ effector and effector memory T cells under everyday life stress conditions. Intraperitoneal naloxone methiodide injection reduced effector CD4+ T cell elevation associated with increased eosinophil numbers in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of GG mice to the levels in AA mice, suggesting that elevated Th2 cell generation in the bronchial lymph node (BLN) of GG mice induces enhanced eosinophilic inflammation.
Conclusions: Without forced stress exposure, patients with asthma carrying the OPRM1 GG genotype exhibit enhanced AHR, attributable to enhanced Th2 cell differentiation in the regional lymph node. Further research is necessary to elucidate the role of the OPRM1 A118G genotype in the Th2 cell differentiation pathway in the BLN.
Background: The effects of bronchial thermoplasty (BT) on smooth muscle (SM) and nerves in small airways are unclear.
Methods: We recruited 15 patients with severe refractory asthma, who received BT treatment. Endobronchial optical-coherence tomography (EB-OCT) was performed at baseline, 3 weeks' follow-up and 2 years' follow-up to evaluate the effect of BT on airway structure. In addition, we divided 12 healthy beagles into a sham group and a BT group, the latter receiving BT on large airways (inner diameter >3 mm) of the lower lobe. The dogs' lung lobes were resected to evaluate histological and neuronal changes of the treated large airways and untreated small airways 12 weeks after BT.
Results: Patients receiving BT treatment had significant improvement in Asthma Control Questionnaire (ACQ) scores and significant reduction in asthma exacerbations. EB-OCT results demonstrated a notable increase in inner-airway area (Ai) and decrease in airway wall area percentage (Aw%) in both large (3rd-to 6th-generation) and small (7th-to 9th-generation) airways. Furthermore, the animal study showed a significant reduction in the amount of SM in BT-treated large airways but not in untreated small airways. Protein gene product 9.5 (PGP9.5)–positive nerves and muscarinic receptor 3 (M3 receptor) expression in large and small airways were both markedly decreased throughout the airway wall 12 weeks after BT treatment.
Conclusions: BT significantly reduced nerves, but not SM, in small airways, which might shed light on the mechanism of lung denervation by BT.
Background: Accumulating evidence indicated the crucial role for interleukin 6 (IL-6) signaling in the development of allergic asthma. Yet, the role of IL-6 signaling in toluene diisocyanate (TDI)-induced mixed granulocytic airway inflammation still remains unclear. Thus, the aims of this study were to dissect the role of IL-6 signaling and to evaluate the effect of tocilizumab on TDI-induced steroid-resistant asthma.
Methods: TDI-induced asthma model was prepared and asthmatic mice were respectively given IL-6 monoclonal antibody, IL-6R monoclonal antibody (tocilizumab, 5 mg/kg, i.p. after each challenge) for therapeutic purposes or isotype IgG as control.
Results: TDI exposure just elevated IL-6R expression in the infiltrated inflammatory cells around the airway, but increased glycoprotein 130 expression in the whole lung, especially in bronchial epithelium. Moreover, TDI inhalation increased airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR) to methacholine, coupled with mixed granulocytic inflammation, exaggerated epithelial denudation, airway smooth muscle thickening, goblet cell metaplasia, extensive submucosal collagen deposition, dysregulated Th2/Th17 responses, as well as innate immune responses and raised serum IgE. And almost all these responses except for raised serum IgE were markedly ameliorated by the administration of IL-6 neutralizing antibody or tocilizumab, but exhibited poor response to systemic steroid treatment. Also, TDI challenge induced nucleocytoplasm translocation of HMGB1 and promoted its release in the BALF, as well as elevated lung level of STAT3 phosphorylation, which were inhibited by anti-IL-6 and anti-IL-6R treatment.
Conclusions: Our data suggested that IL-6 monoclonal antibody and tocilizumab might effectively abrogate TDI-induced airway inflammation and remodeling, which could be used as a clinical potential therapy for patients with severe asthma.
Background: Allergic rhinitis (AR) is caused by allergic reaction to allergens such as pollen. Galanin (GAL), a neuropeptide that regulates inflammatory processes, is widely expressed in the central and peripheral nervous systems. Although neuropeptides are implicated in arthritis and chemically induced ileitis, their roles in AR remain unclear.
Methods: We developed a murine model of AR and generated control, systemic sensitization, mild AR, and severe AR groups. We examined GAL and GAL receptor (GALR) mRNA and protein levels and localization patterns in each group using reverse transcription PCR, western blotting, and immunohistochemical analyses. Additionally, we evaluated the effects of M871, a GALR2 antagonist, on mice with severe AR.
Results:Gal and Galr2 are expressed in nasal mucosa and brain (control) samples from control and AR mice. GAL and GALR2 were expressed at similar levels and localized to ciliated epithelial and submucosal gland cells of the nasal mucosa in all four groups. Intranasal M871 administration significantly reduced the incidence of nose rubbing behaviors and sneezing (p < 0.001 in 30 min, respectively) in severe AR mice relative to that in controls. Mechanistically, we postulate that GALR2 is expressed in B cells, and M871 administration reduces IgE production, as well as the number of B cells in tissues.
Conclusions: GAL signaling may not change progressively with increasing nasal sensitization, suggesting that this signaling process exacerbates, rather than directly trigger, AR. GAL-GALR2 signaling likely mediates AR development, suggesting that its inhibition represents a novel therapeutic strategy for AR.
Background: Autoantibodies (AAbs) against immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies (Abs) and their high-affinity receptor alpha subunits (FcεRIα) are key factors in the elicitation of type IIb autoimmune chronic spontaneous urticaria (type IIb aiCSU). In this study, we aimed to develop a new method to detect functional anti-FcεRIα and anti-IgE AAbs, which can crosslink the plural FcεRIα molecules and IgE Abs on the surface of mast cells and basophils, in sera from aiCSU patients using the amplified luminescence proximity homogeneous assay (Alpha).
Methods: Sera were obtained from 14 aiCSU patients, as diagnosed by recurrent chronic spontaneous urticaria episodes and positive results for the autologous serum skin test and/or histamine release test (HRT). The AAbs to FcεRIα and IgE Abs were determined in sera from aiCSU patients using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and Alpha by cross-linking (AlphaCL) of IgE Abs and/or FcεRIα.
Results: Serum anti-FcεRIα and anti-IgE AAb levels were not significantly different between aiCSU patients and healthy subjects in ELISA. Anti-FcεRIα AAbs were detected in 10 of 14 aiCSU patients who displayed positive (5/5) and negative (5/9) results in the HRT for anti-FcεRIα AAbs by AlphaCL, whereas no signals were observed in healthy subjects. Additionally, anti-IgE AAbs were detected in two of four aiCSU patients who displayed positive results in the HRT for anti-IgE AAbs.
Conclusions: A new assay method using AlphaCL can detect anti-FcεRIα and anti-IgE AAbs with FcεRIα- and IgE-crosslinking abilities in sera from aiCSU patients. This simple and practical assay method may be available as a diagnostic tool for urticaria patients.
Background: Chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) is a common mast cell-driven disease, presenting with wheals, angioedema, or both. Sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is also a common condition and contributes to various diseases by causing chronic inflammation. Recent studies have suggested an association between CSU and SDB.
Methods: To determine the association between the severity of SDB and that of CSU, we studied consecutive patients with CSU who visited the Sagamihara National Hospital allergy department or dermatology department between April 1 and October 31, 2018. The severity of CSU and SDB was evaluated based on the urticaria activity score 7 (UAS7) and peripheral arterial tone apnea-hypopnea index (pAHI) derived from out-of-center sleep testing (OCST) findings, respectively; their correlation was examined.
Results: Of the 37 patients studied, 19 had symptom-free-to-mild CSU (UAS7 ≤15) and 18 had moderate-to-severe CSU (UAS7 ≥16). The pAHI in the latter group was significantly higher than that in the former group (18 vs. 4.2, p = 0.001). In multivariate logistic analysis, moderate-to-severe SDB (pAHI ≥15) was significantly associated with moderate-to-severe CSU even after adjusting for the BMI (adjusted odds ratio 22 [95% confidence interval, 1.7-285]).
Conclusions: The severity of SDB is correlated with that of CSU independently of the BMI. Physicians should consider comorbid SDB when treating patients with CSU.
Background: Mast cell-related symptoms might be influenced by mental health status in mastocytosis. In this study, we aimed to investigate the influence of mental health problems developed during the COVID-19 pandemic on the course of mastocytosis.
Methods: Mental health status in 60 adult patients with mastocytosis was prospectively evaluated with the total Depression-Anxiety-Stress Scale (tDASS-21) and Fear of COVID-19 Scale (FCV-19S) in the lockdown period (LP) and the return to normal period (RTNP) during the pandemic. The disease course was assessed from emergency and outpatient medical reports, including Scoring Mastocytosis (SCORMA) index and serum baseline tryptase levels, by telephone interviews and clinical visits.
Results: The mean FCV-19S and median tDASS-21 scores were significantly higher in LP than RTNP (p < 0.001) and there was a positive correlation between FCV-19S and tDASS-21 in LP (r = 0.820, p < 0.001) and in RTNP (r = 0.572 p= <0.001). Disease-related symptoms including skin lesions, flushing and anaphylaxis attacks increased in 22 patients in LP, and in this group, mean FCV-19S and median tDASS-21 were higher than those without symptom exacerbation (p < 0.001). During the study period, four (6.7%) patients who experienced COVID-19 recovered without any requirement for hospitalization and had not experienced symptom exacerbation.
Conclusions: Fear of COVID-19 can be a reason for mental health changes, including depression, anxiety and stress which may further increase mast cell-related symptoms. Therefore, psychological support is important to control the severity of mast cell-related symptoms in mastocytosis during a pandemic.
Background: Measurement of allergen-specific IgE antibodies to inhaled allergens is important for the diagnosis and risk evaluation of allergic diseases such as asthma and allergic rhinitis. This study aimed to elucidate the prevalence of allergen sensitization among the healthy population in Japan using serum samples stocked in the Japanese Red Cross for blood donation.
Methods: Age- and gender-stratified serum samples (n = 800) from residents in Tokyo aged 20-59 years were randomly selected from the stocked serum obtained for blood donation in 2005. Total and specific IgE antibodies to 17 inhaled allergens were measured by the ImmunoCAP method. Individuals with positive (≥0.35 UA/mL) specific IgE antibodies to at least one inhaled allergen were defined as atopic. Stocked serums from donors aged 20-29 years in Sapporo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Okinawa (n = 200 each) were also obtained for the measurement of IgE to six common inhaled allergens, to evaluate regional differences in the rate of positivity.
Results: Among residents in Tokyo, the prevalence of atopy was 78.0% and highest in men aged 20-29 years (94.0%), which decreased with age. The prevalence of specific IgE antibodies was highest for Japanese cedar pollen (66.8%), followed by cypress pollen (46.8%), Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (38.3%), and moths (30.1%). Examination of IgE to Japanese cedar pollen, D. pteronyssinus, and moths identified 97.6% of atopic subjects in Tokyo. There were substantial regional differences in the prevalence of pollen IgE positivity.
Conclusions: This study demonstrated an extremely high prevalence of positivity in inhaled allergen-specific IgE antibodies among healthy adults in Japan.
Background: Natto (fermented soybeans)-induced hypersensitivity is characterized by delayed symptom onset that hampers diagnosis. We aimed to clarify the clinical utility of the basophil activation test (BAT) in the diagnosis of natto-induced hypersensitivity.
Methods: Five patients with a history of anaphylaxis and chronic urticaria suspected of natto-induced hypersensitivity and seven with chronic spontaneous urticaria clinically unrelated to natto were enrolled in the patient and control groups, respectively. The BAT was performed with two incubation times, 15 min and 1 h, in combination with various concentrations of natto-mucilage extract.
Results: In controls, CD203c levels in basophils remained low in the 15-min incubation but were significantly increased in the 1-h incubation. In the patient group, in the 15-min condition, basophil CD203c was significantly upregulated by natto mucilage but not by soybean vs controls (P = 0.001). Low concentrations of natto mucilage were sufficient to upregulate basophil CD203c in the anaphylaxis cases, but high concentrations were required to induce the same effect in the urticaria cases. Finally, the dose-dependent pattern of the BAT results differed significantly between the anaphylaxis and urticaria cases (P = 0.006). Thus, a strong background reaction was observed in the BAT with 1 h incubation; 15 min of incubation was sufficient to identify patients with natto-induced hypersensitivity and may distinguish the clinical phenotype of natto-induced hypersensitivity, i.e., anaphylaxis or urticaria.
Conclusions: The BAT with a 15-min incubation period is useful in diagnosing natto-induced hypersensitivity.
Background: Skin rash often occurs upon oral administration of amoxicillin in children, due to non-immediate hypersensitivity. However, information on delayed hypersensitivity to amoxicillin is scarce. Moreover, the appropriate diagnostic method and actual diagnostic rate of delayed hypersensitivity to amoxicillin among Japanese children are unclear. We conducted intradermal tests (IDTs) and drug provocation tests (DPTs) and retrospectively investigated the proportion of children with a definitive diagnosis of non-immediate hypersensitivity to amoxicillin. We then evaluated the characteristics of patients with a positive allergic workup.
Methods: We enrolled children referred for suspected findings of mild or moderate non-immediate hypersensitivity to amoxicillin between August 2018 and March 2020. If the IDT in the delayed phase was negative, DPT with amoxicillin (60-90 mg/kg/day) was performed for 7 days. Non-immediate hypersensitivity to amoxicillin was defined when IDT or DPT was positive. We evaluated the potential of the drug-induced lymphocyte stimulation test (DLST) to reveal hypersensitivity to amoxicillin.
Results: This study enrolled 27 children. Fourteen children (52%) had hypersensitivity to amoxicillin, of whom 12 had positive IDTs and two had positive DPTs. No differences in age, sex, history of allergic disease, days from oral use to symptom onset, type of rash at symptom onset, generalized rash, and DLST results were observed between the hypersensitivity and non-hypersensitivity groups.
Conclusions: Examination should be performed for children with mild or moderate reactions because positive cases have no significant features and half of the suspected cases are negative.