Dermatitis could be suppressed as it develops

November 9, 2012
Dermatitis could be suppressed as it develops

Excessive immune reactions against the body's own skin cells can lead to painful and even chronic dermatitis. An international team of researchers at the MedUni Vienna, the MedUni Graz and the Salk Institute in California, led by Herbert Strobl, has now unencrypted the mechanism that contributes towards this unwanted autoimmune reaction being suppressed. This may in future lead to common conditions such as chronic allergic dermatitis or psoriasis being halted as they develop and treated.

The generally has two tasks: it needs to be able to respond effectively to viruses and bacteria, and also prevent reactions against the body's own cells. With every inflammation, but also during the natural regeneration process (renewal) of tissue, the body's own cells die. These represent a constant source of inflammation and are therefore eliminated by 'sentry cells' (macrophages and ) which act as the body's own waste disposal system.

These sentry cells are also charged with detecting and, with the help of T-cells in the lymph nodes, with triggering a in the form of inflammation against them. Says Strobl: "The sentry cells therefore carry out a constant balancing act between preventing inflammation caused by the body's own cells and triggering a desired inflammatory response to pathogens from outside the body."

In the study, which has now been published in the highly respected , the researchers from Vienna and Graz, in collaboration with colleagues from California, have been able to demonstrate that the sentry cells are programmed even during their development to detect the body's own , eliminate them and suppress any immune reaction to them.

They have also demonstrated that this mechanism is particularly important for the immune regulation of the skin, as well as the receptor responsible for this. The transmitter substance TGF-beta1 is synthesised in the epidermis and causes the presence of the Axl receptor on the cell surface of Langerhans cells (epidermal sentry cells) as well as on other skin cells. Says Strobl: "If this mechanism is literally switched off, dermatitis and excessive allergic reactions occur."  

Cortisone is currently the most important drug for the treatment of dermatitis – and although it is used effectively for many skin conditions, there is a demand for alternatives. The new findings regarding the mechanisms behind the development of dermatitis could, says Strobl, in future lead to the development of alternative medications that boost the receptor. This work has been financed by the Research Fund for Scientific Research in Austria (FWF).

Explore further: Skin sentry cells promote distinct immune responses

More information: Bauer, T. et al., Identification of Axl as a downstream effector of TGF-β1 during Langerhans cell differentiation and epidermal homeostasis. JEM vol. 209 no. 11 2033-2047. doi: 10.1084/jem.20120493.

Related Stories

Skin sentry cells promote distinct immune responses

July 21, 2011

A new study reveals that just as different soldiers in the field have different jobs, subsets of a type of immune cell that polices the barriers of the body can promote unique and opposite immune responses against the same ...

Immune cell plays dual role in allergic skin disease

October 18, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- An immune cell involved in initiating the symptoms of an allergic skin reaction may play an equally, or perhaps more important, role in suppressing the reaction once it becomes chronic. This finding in ...

Stopping the itch—new clues into how to treat eczema

October 11, 2012

More than 15% of children suffer with eczema, or atopic dermatitis, an inflammatory skin disease that in some cases can be debilitating and disfiguring. Researchers reporting in the October issue of Immunity have discovered ...

Recommended for you

Snapshot turns T cell immunology on its head

October 6, 2015

Challenging a universally accepted, longstanding consensus in the field of immunity requires hard evidence. New research from the Australian Research Council Centre of excellence in advanced Molecular imaging has shown the ...

Four gut bacteria decrease asthma risk in infants

September 30, 2015

New research by scientists at UBC and BC Children's Hospital finds that infants can be protected from getting asthma if they acquire four types of gut bacteria by three months of age. More than 300 families from across Canada ...

Flu infection reveals many paths to immune response

September 28, 2015

A new study of influenza infection in an animal model broadens understanding of how the immune system responds to flu virus, showing that the process is more dynamic than usually described, engaging a broader array of biological ...

Immune cells may help fight against obesity

September 15, 2015

While a healthy lifestyle and "good genes" are known to help prevent obesity, new research published on September 15 in Immunity indicates that certain aspects of the immune system may also play an important role. In the ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.