Science Update

Reduced carotenoid and retinoid concentrations found in patients with atopic dermatitis, according to a new study

Atopic dermatitis is the most common chronic disease of the skin. It is generally considered a type of eczema and is strongly linked to food allergies; therefore, diet plays a role in its treatment and prevention.

The cause of atopic dermatitis is still poorly understood; however, it involves genetic factors, inherited and acquired skin barrier defects, and immune dysfunction.

According to a study published on Monday, researchers identified that patients with atopic dermatitis have lower plasma levels of carotenoids and retinoids.

This study included 40 patients, 20 individuals with atopic dermatitis and 20 healthy volunteers ranging from 15 to 32 years of age. The disease activity and severity was measured by the SCORe atopic dermatitis index. Patients were also tested for total IgE levels and eosinophils. All clinical markers were significantly increased in the patients with atopic dermatitis. Lutein and zeaxanthin plasma levels were significantly decreased in the plasma of atopic dermatitis (AD) patients compared to healthy volunteers. It is unknown if these alterations are a consequence or cause of chronic skin inflammation.

In addition, all-trans-retinoic acid and retinol concentrations were significantly lower in the plasma of AD patients compared to the healthy individuals. Naturally occurring forms of vitamin A are essential in maintaining many physiological processes, such as vision, cellular growth and differentiation, reproduction, normal growth and development, healthy immune system function, and healthy skin and barrier functions.

Increasing dietary intake of fruits and vegetables as well as supplements rich in lutein and zeaxanthin may decrease disease activity and severity. Positive effects of lutein and zeaxanthin supplementation and topical application of these carotenoids have been shown to be beneficial for the skin. In addition, reduced serum zeaxanthin levels may also be used as a biomarker and an indicator for atopic dermatitis.

The most common food allergies in adolescents and young adults include peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and sesame. An elimination diet based upon food allergies as well as food sensitivities is helpful in the prevention and treatment of atopic disorders. A comprehensive stool analysis could also be helpful to address gastrointestinal dysfunction. Other nutrients that may be beneficial include fish oil and probiotic supplementation.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS


Source: Lucas R, Mihaly J, et al. Reduced Carotenoid and Retinoid Concentrations and Altered Lycopene Isomer Ratio in Plasma of Atopic Dermatitis Patients. Nutrients 2018 Oct 1; 10(10). pii: E1390. doi: 10.3390/nu10101390.