Genetics news & views from students enrolled in BIOL 2110 at Stockton University.
Monday, August 2, 2021
Is Eczema Determined By Our Genes?
In a 2010 study of the entire human genome, multiple genes that significantly alter the function and composition of the skin in people with cases of eczema. Some of the genes affect the immune system and can result in inflammatory or allergic responses while other genes examined affect the skin exclusively. Genes that affect the skin such as the FLG gene, instruct the skin cells to make filaggrin, a large protein in the outermost layer of the skin (epidermis). In approximately 50 percent of people suffering from eczema, there is a mutation in the DNA sequence of the FLG gene that instructs the cells to make less filaggrin. Filaggrin is crucial to helping the epidermis retain moisture and helping the body protect itself from foreign toxins, bacteria, and allergins. When less filaggrin is produced due to the mutation in the DNA sequence, the skin can often end up dry and more prone to infection and allergic reactions. Genes that code for immune system function such as interleukin (IL) 4, 5, and 13, promote allergic inflammation. These genes pertaining to the immune system can also cause a reduction in the function and health of the epidermis as well as the effectiveness of the immune system’s response to pathogens. Excema is commonly triggered by environmental factors, but people with mutations in the mentioned genes may develop the condition suddenly.