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JCI Insight. 2018 Feb 22;3(4). pii: 98006. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.98006. eCollection 2018 Feb 22.

Lipid abnormalities in atopic skin are driven by type 2 cytokines.

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Department of Medicine.
Department of Pediatrics, and.
Center for Genes, Environment and Health, National Jewish Health, Denver, Colorado.
Departments of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado, USA.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, USA.


Lipids in the stratum corneum of atopic dermatitis (AD) patients differ substantially in composition from healthy subjects. We hypothesized that hyperactivated type 2 immune response alters AD skin lipid metabolism. We have analyzed stratum corneum lipids from nonlesional and lesional skin of AD subjects and IL-13 skin-specific Tg mice. We also directly examined the effects of IL-4/IL-13 on human keratinocytes in vitro. Mass spectrometric analysis of lesional stratum corneum from AD subjects and IL-13 Tg mice revealed an increased proportion of short-chain (N-14:0 to N-24:0) NS ceramides, sphingomyelins, and 14:0-22:0 lysophosphatidylcholines (14:0-22:0 LPC) with a simultaneous decline in the proportion of corresponding long-chain species (N-26:0 to N-32:0 sphingolipids and 24:0-30:0 LPC) when compared with healthy controls. An increase in short-chain LPC species was also observed in nonlesional AD skin. Similar changes were observed in IL-4/IL-13-driven responses in Ca2+-differentiated human keratinocytes in vitro, all being blocked by STAT6 silencing with siRNA. RNA sequencing analysis performed on stratum corneum of AD as compared with healthy subjects identified decreased expression of fatty acid elongases ELOVL3 and ELOVL6 that contributed to observed changes in atopic skin lipids. IL-4/IL-13 also inhibited ELOVL3 and ELOVL6 expression in keratinocyte cultures in a STAT6-dependent manner. Downregulation of ELOVL3/ELOVL6 expression in keratinocytes by siRNA decreased the proportion of long-chain fatty acids globally and in sphingolipids. Thus, our data strongly support the pathogenic role of type 2 immune activation in AD skin lipid metabolism.


Dermatology; Skin

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