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Br J Dermatol. 1997 Jan;136(1):54-9.

Modulation by Chinese herbal therapy of immune mechanisms in the skin of patients with atopic eczema.

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  • 1Department of Dermtology, Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine, London, UK.


Ten patients with atopic eczema (AE) received treatment with Chinese herbal therapy (CHT; Zemaphyte) for 2 months. The severity of the eczema was recorded and skin biopsies were taken from lesional (L) and non-lesional (NL) skin before and after treatment. The skin biopsies were stained to detect T-cell subsets (CD4, CD8, CD45Ro and CD25), macrophage subsets (RFD7), dendritic cells (RFD1). Langerhans cells (CD1), HLA-DR, low-affinity IgE receptors (CD23) and high-affinity IgE receptors (15A5, 22H7). A quantitative assessment of the numbers of positively stained cells was made. Monoclonal antibody binding specifically to CD23(Fc epsilon RII) was used, in combination with cell subset monoclonal antibodies to quantify the cellular distribution of CD23 antigen in the skin. Following 2 months of treatment with CHT, erythema was reduced by 53%. There was also a significant reduction in HLA-DR expression. The numbers of RFD1 + CD23 +, RFD7 + CD23 +, CD1 + CD23+ and CD25 + cells in lesional skin decreased significantly after treatment (RFD1 + CD23 + from 0.39 to 0.21, RFD7 + CD23 + from 0.29 to 0.16. CD1 + CD23 + from 0.24 to 0.09, CD25 + from 0.84 to 0.31 in epidermis and from 1.62 to 0.94 in dermis (mean cells numbers per unit area). No significant change in cell numbers in NL skin or expression of Fc epsilon RI in either L or NL samples was observed after treatment. This study confirms that CHT is clinically efficacious and that clinical improvement is associated with a significant reduction in antigen-presenting cells expressing CD23.

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