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Allergol Int. 2012 Jun;61(2):231-43. doi: 10.2332/allergolint.11-RA-0371. Epub 2012 Feb 25.

Dissecting the causes of atopic dermatitis in children: less foods, more mites.

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Pediatric Allergy Service, ASL FG, Torremaggiore, Italy.


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common, chronic or chronically relapsing, multifactorial skin disease that mainly occurs in children but affects also adults. AD usually begins early in life and often concerns people with a personal or family history of asthma and allergic rhinitis. AD is characterized by eczematous changes in the epidermis and originates from a late, T-cell mediated reaction associated to the formation and production of memory T-cell of TH2 type, occurrence of homing receptor at skin level and cutaneous lymphocyte-associated (CLA) antigens. Extrinsic or allergic AD, but not intrinsic AD, shows high total serum IgE levels and the presence of specific IgE for environmental and food allergens. A pivotal role in the pathogenesis of AD is played by filaggrin, a protein contained in the granular layer of the epidermis regulating the aggregation of keratin filaments. Mutation in the filaggrin gene causes decreased barrier function of the corny layers of the epidermis. This favours the enter through the skin of environmental allergens, especially the house dust mite, that further facilitates such entering by the proteolytic activity of its major allergen Der p 1. In fact, recent advances suggest that the dust mite, more than foods, is the major cause of allergic AD. As far as the causal diagnosis of AD is concerned, there is notable evidence supporting the capacity of the atopy patch test (APT) to reproduce the pathophysiologic events of AD. This makes APT a valuable diagnostic tool for AD.

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