Atopic dermatitis complicated by eczema herpeticum is associated with HLA B7 and reduced interferon-γ-producing CD8+ T cells

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The increased susceptibility of patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) to disseminated viral skin infections such as eczema herpeticum (ADEH+) is poorly understood.


The primary goal of the current study was to determine whether ADEH+ subjects have identifiable defects in cell-mediated immunity that reduce their ability to control viral infections.

Materials and methods

In this study, we evaluated cytokine expression by various subsets of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from ADEH+ (n = 24) compared with AD without a history of viral infections (ADEH–) (n = 20) before and after treatment with herpes simplex virus (HSV).


We found that interferon (IFN)-γ expression after HSV treatment was lower in the CD8+ T cells and monocytes from patients with ADEH+ compared with patients who are ADEH– or nonatopic. Given the induction of CD8+ T cells as the result of antigen presentation by human leucocyte antigen (HLA) class I, consistent with the findings described above we also found that the HLA B7 allele was significantly associated with risk of the ADEH+ phenotype (odds ratio = 1·91, P = 0·02, 125 ADEH+ and 161 ADEH– subjects).


These data suggest that defects in viral-induced IFN-γ from CD8+ T cells contribute to the ADEH+ phenotype.

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