Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have unravelled the connection between atopic dermatitis (AD) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). People with the skin condition have higher risk of developing new-onset inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), they said in a study published in JAMA Dermatology.
They found a 44 per cent increased risk of developing IBD in children with atopic dermatitis as compared kids who do not have the skin condition. Adults with atopic dermatitis have a 34 percent increased risk of getting IBD, according to the study results.
The greater the severity of atopic dermatitis, the higher the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease, it said.
The Penn study included more than 1 million children (including infants below 1 year) and adults with AD.
Let's understand the connection between these two diseases
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which encompasses ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, is characterised by chronic digestive tract inflammation. Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes dry, itchy rashes. While one affects the gut and other affects the skin, then how they are connected?
The similarity between these two diseases is that both are driven by the immune system and result in severe inflammation.
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Although Penn researchers did not know exactly how atopic dermatitis leads to IBD, they believe that dysfunction of types of T cells common to both AD and IBD, could be the culprits.
Senior author Joel M Gelfand stated that AD and IBD can cause changes in the microbiome, chronic inflammation, and the dysfunction in the skin and gut barrier respectively.
He also cited the involvement of specific cytokines and certain kinds of proteins in immune system activity that perhaps are related to AD and IBD.
It is important to note that increased risk of ulcerative colitis was seen in children who had severe atopic dermatitis.
The findings may help in finding new targets to treat inflammatory bowel disease and atopic dermatitis.