Molecular aspects of allergens in atopic dermatitis

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Molecular allergology uses pure, mainly recombinant and structurally defined allergen molecules and allergen-derived epitopes to study mechanisms of IgE-associated allergy, to diagnose, and even predict the development of allergic manifestations and to treat and prevent IgE-associated allergies. Atopic dermatitis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease is almost always associated with IgE sensitization to allergens. However, also non-IgE-mediated pathomechanisms seem to be operative in atopic dermatitis and it is often difficult to identify the disease-causing allergens. Here we review recent work showing the usefulness of molecular allergology to study mechanisms of atopic dermatitis, for diagnosis and eventually for treatment and prevention of atopic dermatitis.

Recent findings

IgE sensitization to airborne, food-derived, microbial allergens, and autoallergens has been found to be associated with atopic dermatitis. Using defined allergen molecules and non-IgE-reactive allergen derivatives, evidence could be provided for the existence of IgE- and non-IgE-mediated mechanisms of inflammation in atopic dermatitis. Furthermore, effects of epicutaneous allergen administration on systemic allergen-specific immune responses have been studied. Multi-allergen tests containing micro-arrayed allergen molecules have been shown to be useful for the identification of culprit allergens in atopic dermatitis and may improve the management of atopic dermatitis by allergen-specific immunotherapy, allergen avoidance, and IgE-targeting therapies in a personalized medicine approach.

Summary

Molecular allergology allows for dissection of the pathomechanisms of atopic dermatitis, provides new forms of allergy diagnosis for identification of disease-causing allergens, and opens the door to new forms of management by allergen-specific and T cells-targeting or IgE-targeting interventions in a personalized medicine approach.

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