Background: Mutations in the gene encoding filaggrin (FLG), an epidermal structural protein, are the strongest risk factor identified for the development of atopic dermatitis (AD). Up to 50% of patients with moderate-to-severe AD in European populations have FLG-null alleles compared with a general population frequency of 7% to 10%.
Objective: This study aimed to investigate the relationship between FLG-null mutations and epidermal antigen-presenting cell (APC) maturation in subjects with and without AD. Additionally, we investigated whether the cis isomer of urocanic acid (UCA), a filaggrin breakdown product, exerts immunomodulatory effects on dendritic cells.
Methods: Epidermal APCs from nonlesional skin were assessed by using flow cytometry (n = 27) and confocal microscopy (n = 16). Monocyte-derived dendritic cells from healthy volunteers were used to assess the effects of cis- and trans-UCA on dendritic cell phenotype by using flow cytometry (n = 11).
Results: Epidermal APCs from FLG-null subjects had increased CD11c expression. Confocal microscopy confirmed this and additionally revealed an increased number of epidermal CD83+ Langerhans cells in FLG-null subjects. In vitro differentiation in the presence of cis-UCA significantly reduced costimulatory molecule expression on monocyte-derived dendritic cells from healthy volunteers and increased their ability to induce a regulatory T-cell phenotype in mixed lymphocyte reactions.
Conclusions: We show that subjects with FLG-null mutations have more mature Langerhans cells in nonlesional skin irrespective of whether they have AD. We also demonstrate that cis-UCA reduces maturation of dendritic cells and increases their capacity to induce regulatory T cells, suggesting a novel link between filaggrin deficiency and immune dysregulation.
- Atopic dermatitis
- Costimulatory molecules
- Langerhans cells
- Urocanic acid