A Predisposition to Eczema? Filaggrin May be to Blame.

Do you know what filaggrin is? If you have eczema your skin may be lacking it. When my son was first diagnosed with eczema, and his physician prescribed wet wrap therapy as a treatment, he explained my son’s skin may be deficient in filaggrin. I had never heard of it and as I was sleep deprived, he was kind and drew me a picture. His drawing showed a smooth skin barrier and a broken skin barrier which looked like a brick wall with cracks or like a dry desert floor. He went on to explain a lack of filaggrin could be the cause and that his skin barrier being less smooth than it could be was allowing in allergens and leading to his red rash and horrible itch. I still remember it well and it helps me relate to our customers struggling with eczema. New research is giving even more weight to a link between a lack of this key barrier protein filaggrin and eczema, and that it may be responsible for changes in skin proteins and pathways that make people susceptible to eczema.

New research from the Newcastle University in the United Kingdom and Stiefel - a GlaxoSmithKline company - report their findings in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Their work builds on previous work that shows a lack of the protein is strongly tied to the development of eczema. The lead investigator, Nick Reynolds, a professor of dermatology at the University says the discovery, "reinforces the importance of filaggrin deficiency leading to problems with the barrier function in the skin and predisposing someone to eczema." The researchers hope this new information will lead to treatments that get a the root cause and not just alleviate symptoms.

Wet wrap therapy for eczema is often successful because the increase in moisture to the skin helps to create a smooth skin barrier. The exact cause for eczema is still not known, but most likely it’s a combination of genetic and environmental factors and a dysfunction of the skin barrier and immune system. The researchers admit that it’s not known exactly what happens at the molecular level to link filaggrin deficiency to the development of eczema. However, they could identify signaling mechanisms that regulate inflammation, cell structure, stress response, and the function of the skin barrier. For more information, we’ve included a link to the study.