Classic atopic dermatitis is complicated by asthma, allergic rhinitis, and food allergies, cumulatively referred to as atopic diseases. Recent discoveries of mutations in the filaggrin gene as predisposing factors for atopic diseases have refocused investigators’ attention on epidermal barrier dysfunction as a causative mechanism. The skin’s barrier function has three elements: the stratum corneum (air-liquid barrier), tight junctions (liquid-liquid barrier), and the Langerhans cell network (immunological barrier). Clarification of the molecular events underpinning epidermal barrier function and dysfunction should lead to a better understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms of atopic diseases.
Akiharu Kubo, Keisuke Nagao, Masayuki Amagai
Schematic representation of the barriers in simple epithelia and stratified epidermis.