Research shows that innate lymphoid cells accumulate in active eczema lesions and may contribute to disease progression.
"Like foot soldiers protecting the skin barrier from onslaught, innate lymphoid cells are present in healthy skin and we would predict that these cells play a role in maintaining normal tissue function and perhaps in protecting against microbes on this barrier," commented senior study author David Artis (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA) in a press statement.
"However, in chronic inflammatory diseases like atopic dermatitis, unchecked innate lymphoid cell responses can promote inflammation."
Group two innate lymphoid cells, which produce the cytokines interleukin (IL)-5 and IL-13, were recently observed to stimulate inflammation in the lung and intestine regulated by IL-33 and IL-25.
As reported in Science Translational Medicine, Artis and team evaluated whether group two innate lymphoid cells are present in the skin and involved in inflammation in conditions such as atopic dermatitis.
They found that group two innate lymphoid cells are present in the skin and appear to accumulate in the skin lesions of people with eczema.
Further research in a mouse model showed that these cells are also present in normal mouse skin, and in a mouse model of atopic dermatitis appear to actively promote disease progression. Notably, unlike in the lung and intestine, group two innate lymphoid cells in the skin appear to act independently of IL-33 and IL-25, but are dependent on thymic stromal lymphopoietin.
"An unexpected finding of the current study is that innate lymphoid cells in the skin appear to be activated and regulated by different pathways," lead study author Brian Kim, also from the University of Pennsylvania, told the press.
"These findings suggest that tissue-specific local signals may regulate their function. This finding may also offer therapeutic potential to selectively target innate lymphoid cells in certain tissues, especially for limiting disease severity," he added.
Unlike psoriasis, there are no currently approved biologic treatments for atopic dermatitis. "Our findings give us hope that new biologic therapies may be designed to treat atopic dermatitis in the future," said Artis.
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