Clinical phenotypes and endophenotypes of atopic dermatitis: Where are we, and where should we go?

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Abstract

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a paradigmatic chronic inflammatory skin disease characterized by a complex pathophysiology and a wide spectrum of the clinical phenotype. Despite this high degree of heterogeneity, AD is still considered a single disease and usually treated according to the “one-size-fits-all” approach. Thus more tailored prevention and therapeutic strategies are still lacking. As for other disciplines, such as oncology or rheumatology, we have to approach AD in a more differentiated way (ie, to dissect and stratify the complex clinical phenotype into more homogeneous subgroups based on the endophenotype [panel of biomarkers]) with the aim to refine the management of this condition. Because we are now entering the era of personalized medicine, a systems biology approach merging the numerous clinical phenotypes with robust (ie, relevant and validated) biomarkers will be needed to best exploit their potential significance for the future molecular taxonomy of AD. This approach will not only allow an optimized prevention and treatment with the available drugs but also hopefully help assign newly developed medicinal products to those patients who will have the best benefit/risk ratio.

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