Date: 16 Mar 2014

Skin Barrier Defects in Atopic Dermatitis

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Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory skin condition with complex etiology that is dependent upon interactions between the host and the environment. Acute skin lesions exhibit the features of a Th2-driven inflammatory disorder, and many patients are highly atopic. The skin barrier plays key roles in immune surveillance and homeostasis, and in preventing penetration of microbial products and allergens. Defects that compromise the structural integrity or else the immune function of the skin barrier play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of AD. This article provides an overview of the array of molecular building blocks that are essential to maintaining healthy skin. The basis for structural defects in the skin is discussed in relation to AD, with an emphasis on filaggrin and its genetic underpinnings. Aspects of innate immunity, including the role of antimicrobial peptides and proteases, are also discussed.

This article is part of the Topical Collection on Allergic Skin Diseases