Pregnancy protein HLA-G1 could be key to treating eczema, say researchers

Atopic dermatitis

Researchers from Japan have identified a pregnancy protein that could help treat eczema in a safer, more effective way.

The human leukocyte antigen-G1 (HLA-G1) protein, which is known to protect the foetus against attack from the mother’s immune system during pregnancy, has been found to significantly improve skin lesions in mice with atopic dermatitis – the chronic form of eczema.

Professor Katsumi Maenaka, from the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences at Hokkaido University in Japan, and colleagues believe, after their tests, that topical administration of HLA-G1 could help eczema sufferers.

When the protein was tested on mice with the condition, researchers applied the protein to their ears every other day for a total of 20 days. The mice showed significant improvement in skin lesions and blood samples showed that their immune responses had been reduced.

Professor Maenaka said: “Our study provides novel insights on the function of HLA-G proteins, which can provide clues on efficient therapeutic strategies for patients with atopic dermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis and other related diseases.

"Further investigation is needed to better understand HLA-G's suppressive mechanism against excessive immune reactions.”

There is currently no cure for atopic dermatitis and symptoms can be triggered by exposure to irritants and allergens, such as dust mites, mould, pollen, cigarette smoke, certain food and more.