Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

When our protective armor shows weakness

01.08.2008
Genetic defect in skin cells leads to neurodermatitis, hay fever and asthma

New knowledge points to the fact that a genetically induced lack of filaggrin, a key protein of the skin barrier, plays a decisive role in the origin of allergies.

In a large study on more than 3000 school-children scientists of the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technische Universität München found that about 8% of the German population carry variations of the filaggrin gene, which raise the risk to develop atopic dermatitis more than threefold. In addition, these genetic variations predispose to hay fever and asthma in those with atopic dermatitis.

Allergic diseases have increased considerably in the past decades in most industrial countries. A combination of genetic and environmentally related factors is said to be the cause. In recent years, several genes were examined for a role in allergic diseases, and one of them actually turned out to be a key player. This gene encodes filaggrin, an essential protein in the horny layer of the skin. If this protein is reduced or lacking due to a genetic defect, the natural cornification is impeded and the natural barrier function of the skin is limited.

In 2006 filaggrin mutations could be identified as cause of the so-called fish scale disease or ichthyosis vulgaris, and as risk factors for the development of atopic dermatitis, a genetic breakthrough made by the Irish research team around Irwin McLean and Alan Irvine.

In an international collaboration, Dr. Stephan Weidinger from the Technische Universität München and Dr. Thomas Illig from the Helmholtz Zentrum München now investigated 3,000 school children, representing the population as a whole. The study was carried out together with Dr. Michael Kabesch of the Children's Hospital of the Kudwig-Maximilians-University Munich. The Munich scientists found that almost 8% of the children in Germany suffer from a genetically determined deficiency of filaggrin protein in the skin. These children have a more than threefold increased risk to develop atopic dermatitis. "In general, our results show that mutations in the filaggrin gene are extremely strong risk factors for atopic dermatitis and beyond that for hay fever.

In the case of pre-existing eczema they may also cause asthma," explained Weidinger The asthma results were especially surprising, because filaggrin is not present in the respiratory tract, but appears to be of importance in the skin only."A weakened skin barrier function might enable allergens to penetrate more easily and thereby promote the development of allergies.”

In addition, in another recent study on 1600 adults from the KORA cohort (Co-operative Health Research in the Augsburg Region), which represents the German population as a whole, Weidinger and Illig found out that a deficiency of filaggrin protein due to genetic variants also increases the risk for allergic contact eczema, especially of allergic reactions to nickel, which is often found in costume jewelry.

The current results show that the skin plays a crucial role in the development of different allergic diseases. "We are now interested in finding out the precise consequences of filaggrin mutations," declared Illig. "The next thing to do is to examine the metabolic pathway of this important protein. In addition, we want to clarify which molecular mechanisms play a role at the genetic level, but also concerning the protein itself. Then, the final aim, of course, is to find a therapy for patients with atopic diseases," added Illig. "If a lack of filaggrin is such an important factor in allergic diseases, it would be almost conceivable to increase production of this protein or to replace its function in other ways”.

Michael van den Heuvel | alfa
Further information:
http://www.helmholtz-muenchen.de

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Inselspital: Fewer CT scans needed after cerebral bleeding
20.03.2019 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht Building blocks for new medications: the University of Graz is seeking a technology partner
19.03.2019 | Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solving the efficiency of Gram-negative bacteria

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Bacteria bide their time when antibiotics attack

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Open source software helps researchers extract key insights from huge sensor datasets

22.03.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>