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Proc Am Thorac Soc. 2010 May;7(2):134-7. doi: 10.1513/pats.201002-025RM.

Skin exposure and asthma: is there a connection?

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M.P.H., YOEMP, 135 College Street, 3rd Floor, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


Numerous occupational and environmental exposures that increase asthma risk have been identified. Research and prevention have focused primarily on the respiratory tract. However, recent studies suggest that the skin may also be an important route of exposure and site of sensitization that contributes to asthma development. Factors that impair skin barrier function, such as filaggrin gene mutations or skin trauma, may facilitate allergen entry and promote Th2-like sensitization and subsequent asthma. Animal studies demonstrate that skin exposure to chemical and protein allergens is highly effective at inducing sensitization, with subsequent inhalation challenge eliciting asthmatic responses. A similar role for human skin exposure to certain sensitizing agents, such as isocyanates, is likely. Skin exposure methodologies are being developed to incorporate skin exposure assessment into epidemiology studies investigating asthma risk factors.

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