[Role of aeroallergens in the etiopathogenesis of atopic dermatitis]

M Escarrer Jaume, F Muñoz-López
Allergologia et Immunopathologia 2002, 30 (3): 126-34

UNLABELLED: Atopic dermatitis is a chronic relapsing inflammatory skin disease. It is most frequent in childhood and its clinical manifestations vary with age. The etiopathogenic mechanisms that explain this process are still poorly understood; several studies performed in adults speculate on the possible role of aeroallergens through direct contact with the skin but, because the etiology of this disease varies with age, studies in children of different ages are required.

AIMS: (i) To determine whether children with atopic dermatitis are sensitized to inhalant allergens. (ii) To determine whether these inhalant allergens cause dermatitis or whether they provoke allergic respiratory disease (asthma, rhinitis) concomitant with atopic dermatitis. (iii) To evaluate whether sensitization to a particular allergen takes place at any age or whether there are differences according to age.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: This study was performed in the following groups: (i) 64 children with atopic dermatitis, divided into two subgroups, one consisting of 37 children who also presented allergic respiratory disease (asthma, rhinitis) (AR) and another subgroup of 27 patients who presented atopic dermatitis only. (ii)

CONTROL GROUP: eight children who presented AR only, to determine whether this group reacted to patch testing with inhalant allergens. (iii)

CONTROL GROUP: seven healthy children to rule out non-specific positive tests in the non-atopic population. All groups were divided by age according to the phases of atopic dermatitis: early childhood phase (< 2 years): 21, childhood phase (2-10 years): 37, adolescent phase (> 10 years): 21. In all children total serum IgE determination (RIA), allergen-specific IgE determination (RAST), prick- and patch test were performed. In the three tests the same allergens were used, consisting of the usual components of standardized inhalant and food allergens. When the results of patch testing were positive, biopsy and histopathological analysis were performed and monoclonal antibodies were used to determine reproducibility of the eczematous lesion.

RESULTS: Sensitization was found to differ among patients with atopic dermatitis according to whether they presented respiratory symptoms and according to age with a clear predominance of food sensitization in the group aged less than 2 years. In the group aged 2-10 years, mixed sensitization predominated, mainly because of simultaneous respiratory involvement, but it is highly probably that inhalant allergens participate in the etiopathogenesis of atopic dermatitis. In children aged more than 10 years sensitization to inhalant allergens predominated as most presented respiratory symptoms. Patch testing was positive in 34.3 % of patients with atopic dermatitis and approximately half were positive to dust mites. The patch test is of great diagnostic value in atopic dermatitis and none of the tests were positive in the control group. All the biopsies of patch tests with inhalant allergens reproduced the lesions typical of eczema, demonstrating their involvement in the etiopathogenesis of dermatitis.

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