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Spontaneously Resolved Atopic Dermatitis Shows Melanocyte and Immune Cell Activation Distinct From Healthy Control Skin (Spontaneously healed atopic dermatitis versus active atopic dermatitis)
Rindler K, Krausgruber T, Thaler FM, Alkon N, Bangert C, Kurz H, Fortelny N, Rojahn TB, Jonak C, Griss J, Bock C, Brunner PM
Atopic dermatitis (AD) typically starts in infancy or early childhood, showing spontaneous remission in a subset of patients, while others develop lifelong disease. Despite an increased understanding of AD, factors guiding its natural course are only insufficiently elucidated. We thus performed suction blistering in skin of adult patients with stable, spontaneous remission from previous moderate-to-severe AD during childhood. Samples were compared to healthy controls without personal or familial history of atopy, and to chronic, active AD lesions. Skin cells and tissue fluid obtained were used for single-cell RNA sequencing and proteomic multiplex assays, respectively. We found overall cell composition and proteomic profiles of spontaneously healed AD to be comparable to healthy control skin, without upregulation of typical AD activity markers (e.g., IL13, S100As, and KRT16). Among all cell types in spontaneously healed AD, melanocytes harbored the largest numbers of differentially expressed genes in comparison to healthy controls, with upregulation of potentially anti-inflammatory markers such as PLA2G7. Conventional T-cells also showed increases in regulatory markers, and a general skewing toward a more Th1-like phenotype. By contrast, gene expression of regulatory T-cells and keratinocytes was essentially indistinguishable from healthy skin. Melanocytes and conventional T-cells might thus contribute a specific regulatory milieu in spontaneously healed AD skin.