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Eczema patients lack natural antibiotic in skin

tis patients are so frequently plagued by bacterial infections, Dr. Leung and his colleagues decided to investigate the potential role of the antimicrobial peptides in those patients.

They evaluated the levels of two antimicrobial peptides, known as LL-37 and HBD-2, in eight patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, 11 psoriasis patients, and six healthy individuals. Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin disease, whose patients rarely suffer skin infections. Microscopic examination of skin samples showed significant amounts of the peptides in the skin of psoriasis patients, but none to minor amounts in skin from atopic dermatitis patients, and none in the skin of healthy controls. Additional analysis indicated that most psoriasis patients had at least 10 times as much of the peptides in their skin as did atopic dermatitis patients. Many atopic dermatitis patients had no detectable amounts of the antimicrobial peptides in their skin.

When the researchers treated staphylococcus aureus colonies with the antimicrobial peptides, levels found in skin of psoriasis patients killed the bacterial. The researchers also found that two hormone-like proteins associated with the immune response and commonly secreted by atopic dermatitis patients’ cells. "These findings indicate that atopic dermatitis patients have an impaired immune response that prevents them from producing adequate amounts of antimicrobial peptides in their skin," said Dr. Leung.

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