Recent research identifies factors that reduce lipids in the skin and trigger inflammation to promote the development of atopic dermatitis (Wang Z et al. PLoS One. 2012;7:e51262). The condition is associated with a dysfunctional immune response, but little is known about its underlying cause.
Investigators at Oregon State University previously found that atopic dermatitis can be triggered by inadequate amounts of a master regulator that controls lipid biosynthesis in the skin— a protein called chicken ovalbumin upstream promoter transcription factor interacting protein 2, or Ctip2 (Ganguli-Indra G et al. Exp Dermatol. 2009;18:994-996). In the group's latest study, they discovered that Ctip2 suppresses thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), a cytokine that is produced by skin cells and can trigger inflammation. Levels of this inflammatory TSLP were 1000 times higher in laboratory animals that had been genetically modified to express no Ctip2 in their skin.
Hampton T. Atopic Dermatitis Clues. JAMA. 2013;309(5):431. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.268