Finding a therapeutic approach to eczema
How does the immune system react to the fungus on our skin? Researchers from the University of Zurich have been able to show that the same defense cells that protect against yeast fungus induce inflammatory symptoms of atopic dermatitis. Antibody therapy can alleviate chronic skin disease.
Skin of humans and animals is densely populated with mushrooms. It is believed that yeast fungi called malassezia, which together with bacteria and viruses, form part of healthy skin microflora, strengthen the immune system and prepare an immune system to meet with dangerous pathogens – similar to how certain bacteria work. However, unlike bacteria, little is known about the physiological processes that hold the ubiquitous fungus on the skin under control.
Immunologists from the University of Zurich now show that the immune system is responsible for skin balance. For the first time, mice and humans have shown that Malassezia fungi stimulate the immune system to form interleukin-17 messenger. If the courier does not release or lacking the defective cells producing interleukin-17, the fungus can grow unlimited and the skin becomes prone.
The fungus can trigger an allergy to the skin
But what happens when the balance on the body surface is pulled out of the wrist? There are indications that normally malassezy fungi play a role in eczema. This study confirms that immune cells producing interleukin-17, which normally protect against fungi and maintain their growth under control, contribute to the development of atopic dermatitis. The fungus, so to speak, becomes an allergen on the skin and causes an excessive reaction of the immune system with the corresponding inflammatory properties on the skin. Experiments with cells infected with atopic dermatitis confirm this finding.
Treating Therapeutic Antibodies
The study suggests that atopic dermatitis therapeutic antibodies that neutralize the effects of interleukin 17 may be effective. These antibodies already exist and are used to treat psoriasis with great success, researchers say. However, it remains to be clarified why an immune response to the ubiquitous Malassezia fungus can become pathological and why normally protective immune mechanisms in patients with atopic dermatitis fail. The study can be found here.