Genetic etiology of atopic dermatitis

Coordinator:    Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Stephan Weidinger, Prof. Dr. med. Young AE Lee
Institution: Klinik für Dermatologie, Venerologie und Allergiologie, Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel; Pädiatrische Allergologie des Experimental and Clinical Research Centers der Charité Berlin
With a lifetime prevalence of approximately 20% atopic dermatitis is one of the most common chronic inflammatory diseases. In the majority of patients this skin disease manifests early in life, and in a considerable proportion of the patients the disease persists into adulthood. The disease often precedes the development of asthma and rhinitis, and is associated with a number of other chronic disorders. Atopic dermatitis is strongly heritable. Environmental factors translate the inherited susceptibility into disease manifestation.

Within this project, which was conducted at the Department of Dermatology and of the Institute of Clinical Molecular Biology (IKMB) of the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH)/ Kiel University (CAU), the Outpatient Clinic for Pediatric Allergology of the Experimental and Clinical Research Center of the Charité Berlin, and the Department of Dermatology of the TU Munich, with the help of systematic genetic mapping in large and well characterized patient collections, birth cohorts and population-based cross-sectional cohorts, as well as experiments in vitro and in animal models, a number of risk genes for atopic dermatitis could be identified and characterized. Variants in these genes cause deficiencies of the skin barrier function and inadequate immune responses. Furthermore, a number of molecular mechanisms appear to be shared with other chronic inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease.

The insights gained from this project have contributed to a new pathogenetic concept of the disease and have stimulated novel approaches in prevention and therapy. Through bioinformatics and systems biology approaches the molecular pathways will be further characetriced, and attempts to stratify patients for individualized medicine will be made.

Overview on known atopic dermatitis risk genes and mechanisms

Further Coordinators:
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