Could molecule CD1a be the key to preventing contact dermatitis?
Scientists are exploring whether itchy rash contact dermatitis could be prevented from developing on the skin.
Researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center are investigating whether the condition could be stopped by applying competing lipids to the skin that displace those triggering the immune reaction.
Contact dermatitis occurs when the immune system’s T cells recognise a chemical as foreign, however, the team has found that a chemical reaction with larger proteins needs to take place in order to be picked up by the T cells.
They believe that CD1a – a molecule found on Langerhans cells, residing on the basal and suprabasal layers of the epidermis – could be the catalyst for making foreign chemicals visible to T cells.
According to the team’s research, several common chemicals known to trigger allergic contact dermatitis were unable to bind to CD1a molecules, such as benxyl benxoate and benzyl cinnamate, found in Balsam of Peru and farnesol.
“The study paves the way for follow up studies to confirm the mechanism in allergic patients and design inhibitors of the response,” said assistant Professor Annemieke De Jong.
“From previous studies, we know the identity of several lipids that can bind to CD1a but won’t activate T cells.”
In August, studies showed that skin conditions such as dermatitis can have a significant impact on quality of life.