Background: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is the most common chronic inflammatory skin disease in infancy with a complex pathology. In adults, the clinical severity of AD has been associated with increases in T helper cell type (Th) 2, Th22, and Th17 serum markers, including high levels of CC chemokine ligand (CCL) 17 and CCL22 chemokines.
Objective: To explore the possible association between serum chemokine levels and AD severity in infants with moderate-to-severe AD and elevated immunoglobulin E (IgE).
Subjects and methods: Serum samples (n = 41) obtained from a randomized, double-blind, and clinical dietary intervention study were used to study biomarkers in infants with AD. Baseline- and post-intervention samples (4 months) were used, six chemokines and nine ratios thereof were analyzed using Luminex and correlated to AD severity. In the initial study, the infants were randomized to receive extensively hydrolyzed whey-based formula without (control) or with short-chain galacto-oligosaccharides/long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (9:1) and Bifidobacterium breve M-16V (active).
Results: 31 Infants up to 11 months of age, with an objective-SCORAD score (oSCORAD) ≥ 20 and elevated total-IgE and/or specific-IgE levels were included. In time, the median oSCORAD decreased in both groups by -8 (control, p < 0.05; active, p < 0.01). Irrespective of dietary intervention, several changes in Th2 chemokines (CCL17 and CCL22), inflammatory chemokine (CCL20), and the Th1 chemokine, CXC chemokine ligand (CXCL) 9, were detected over time. Overall CCL17 correlated to oSCORAD (r = 0.446, p < 0.01). After 4 months of dietary intervention, CXCL9 was higher (p < 0.01) in the active group compared with control [active, 2.33 (1.99-2.89); controls, 1.95 (1.77-2.43) log 10 median (range)]. In addition, a reduction in Th2/Th1 chemokine ratios for CCL17/CXCL9, CCL22/CXCL9, CCL20/CXCL10, and CCL20/CXCL11 was detected associated with the active intervention.
Conclusion: While this study is small and exploratory in nature, these data contribute to immune biomarker profiling and understanding of AD in infants.