Protective Protein May Improve Atopic Dermatitis Symptoms

Novel treatment effective against rheumatoid arthritis also produced a marked improvement in skin lesions caused by atopic dermatitis.

Scientists harnessed a protein that protects a fetus from an immune system attack during pregnancy to successfully treat mice with an induced form of atopic dermatitis.

Based on prior studies showing human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-G proteins can suppress joint swelling in mice with rheumatoid arthritis, the investigators sought to determine its effect on atopic dermatitis.

For a study published in International Immunopharmacology, investigators used an extract derived from common dust mice to induce atopic dermatitis in mice.

The extract was applied on and around the mices’ ears for 15 days. Bleeding, scarring, and dry skin were evident and blood samples showed evidence of an immune reaction. The affected areas were treated with topical HLA-G1 every other day for 20 days.

The results of the study showed mice treated with HLA-G1 showed improvement in skin lesions, and blood samples showed a reduced immune response compared with mice treated with saline.

The findings suggest treatment with HLA-G1 could improve the condition by suppressing an excessive allergic reaction, according to the authors.

Most notably, the mice did no experience any weight loss, which is a common adverse event of anti-atopic dermatitis treatments.

“Our study provides novel insights on the function of HLA-G proteins, which can provide clues on efficient therapeutic strategies for patients with atopic dermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other related diseases,” said author Katsumi Maenaka. “Further investigation is needed to better understand HLA-G’s suppressive mechanism against excessive immune reactions.”

Other experiments showed the suppressive function of HLA-G involves inhibiting lymphocytes involved in allergic reactions.

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic form of eczema developing as a result of a hypertensive immune reaction; however, the exact mechanism is unknown. The condition most commonly occurs in children, and causes itchiness, redness of the skin, scaling, and vesicles.