Current understanding of epigenetics in atopic dermatitis

Alina D. Schmidt, Cristina de Guzman Strong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is an inflammatory skin disorder affecting up to 20% of the paediatric population worldwide. AD patients commonly exhibit dry skin and pruritus and are at a higher risk for developing asthma as well as allergic rhinitis. Filaggrin loss-of-function variants are the most widely replicated genetic risk factor among >40 genes associated with AD susceptibility. The prevalence of AD has tripled in the past 30 years in industrial countries around the world. This urgent public health issue has prompted the field to more thoroughly investigate the mechanisms that underlie AD pathogenesis amidst environmental exposures. Epigenetics is the study of heritable, yet reversible, modifications to the genome that affect gene expression. The past decade has seen an emergence of exciting studies identifying a role for epigenetic regulation associated with AD and at the interface of environmental factors. Such epigenetic studies have been empowered by sequencing technologies and human genome variation and epigenome maps. miRNAs that post-transcriptionally modify gene expression and circRNAs have also been discovered to be associated with AD. Here, we review our current understanding of epigenetics associated with atopic dermatitis. We discuss studies identifying distinct DNA methylation changes in keratinocytes and T cells, eQTLs as DNA methylation switches that impact gene expression, and histone modification changes associated with AD-related microbial dysbiosis. We further highlight the need for integrative and collaborative analyses to elucidate the impact of these epigenetic findings as potential drivers for AD pathogenesis and the translation of this new knowledge to develop newer targeted treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1150-1155
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Dermatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • T cells
  • atopic dermatitis
  • inflammation
  • inflammatory skin diseases


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