Target Health Blog

Single-Gene Mutations Lead to Atopic Dermatitis

July 10, 2017


According to an article published online in Nature Genetics (2 July 2017), mutations have been identified in a gene called CARD11 that lead to atopic dermatitis, or eczema, an allergic skin disease. The mutations were discovered in four unrelated families with severe atopic dermatitis, with subsequent identification of cell-signaling defects that contribute to allergic disease. Their findings also suggest that some of these defects potentially could be corrected by supplementation with the amino acid glutamine.

For the study, the authors analyzed the genetic sequences of patients with severe atopic dermatitis and identified eight individuals from four families with mutations in the CARD11 gene, which provides instructions for production of a cell-signaling protein of the same name. While some people with these mutations had other health issues, such as infections, others did not, implying that mutations in CARD11 could cause atopic dermatitis without leading to other medical issues often found in severe immune system syndromes. The authors next set out to understand how the newly discovered CARD11 mutations contribute to atopic dermatitis. Each of the four families had a distinct mutation that affected a different region of the CARD11 protein, but all the mutations had similar effects on T-cell signaling. With cell culture and other laboratory experiments, the authors determined that the mutations led to defective activation of two cell-signaling pathways, one of which typically is activated in part by glutamine. Then, growing cultured T cells from patients with CARD11 mutations with excess glutamine, boosted mTORC1 activation, a key part of one of the affected pathways. This suggested that the potential to partially correct the cell-signaling defects that may contribute to atopic dermatitis. The authors are now planning a study to assess the effect of supplemental glutamine and leucine, another amino acid that activates mTORC1, in people with atopic dermatitis with and without CARD11 mutations.

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