treating eczema could also alleviate asthma
January 19, 2018
Scientists have discovered insights for a
possible new therapy for eczema that also reduces the severity of asthma. The
findings are an important next step in understanding the relationship between
the two inflammatory diseases and to developing effective therapies.
Scientists from VIB-UGent
have discovered insights for a possible new therapy for eczema that also
reduces the severity of asthma. The findings are an important next step in
understanding the relationship between the two inflammatory diseases and to
developing effective therapies. The results of the study are published in the Journal
of Investigative Dermatology.
Children with atopic
dermatitis (AD), a type of eczema of the skin, show an increased risk of
developing asthma later in life. This phenomenon, also known as atopic march,
raises questions on whether therapies can be developed that not only tackle AD,
but also prevent the onset of other allergic diseases. Intrigued by this
possibility, a team of VIB scientists took to the lab.
Marching from the skin to
House dust mites are known
culprits in the development of both AD and asthma, as exposure to the mites
induces inflammation. Dr. Julie Deckers, Prof. Karolien De Bosscher and Prof.
Hamida Hammad (all VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research) created a mouse
model to look further into the relationship between the two diseases.
Dr. Julie Deckers
(VIB-UGent): “As predicted, our test showed that house dust mite-induced
skin inflammation leads to aggravated levels of allergic airway inflammation.
Yet, to our surprise, this response significantly differs from the reaction to
direct exposure of house dust mites in the lungs without prior skin
inflammation. These results have given us a deeper understanding of the
complexity of the atopic march.”
One therapy to rule them
The real challenge,
however, was to investigate whether the relief of skin inflammation might
influence the subsequent development of asthma. The team therefore combined two
anti-inflammatory compounds — corticosteroids and PPARƴ agonists — into one
potential treatment in mice.
Dr. Julie Deckers
(VIB-UGent Center for Inflammation Research): “The combined therapy
effectively alleviated AD, but was insufficient at preventing allergic
asthmatic response in the lungs. However, the treatment did significantly
reduce the severity of the asthma by counteracting one aspect of the specific
immune response in the lungs. In this way, the therapy represents a potent
remedy against allergic skin inflammation and the aggravation of atopic
The team is now looking
for industrial partners to develop clinical trials for the therapy, making the
leap from mouse to man. At the same time, they plan to further investigate the
exact mechanisms driving the progression from AD to asthma in order to develop
alternative therapies that can halt the atopic march.
1. Julie Deckers, Nadia
Bougarne, Viacheslav Mylka, Sofie Desmet, Astrid Luypaert, Michael Devos, Giel
Tanghe, Justine Van Moorleghem, Manon Vanheerswynghels, Lode De Cauwer,
Jonathan Thommis, Marnik Vuylsteke, Jan Tavernier, Bart Lambrecht, Hamida
Hammad, Karolien De Bosscher. Co-activation of GR and PPARγ in murine skin
prevents worsening of atopic march. Journal of Investigative Dermatology,