Blockade of IL-13 signaling improves skin barrier function and biology in patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis

Nicole Sander, Dora Stölzl, Melina Fonfara, Jan Hartmann, Inken Harder, Ina Suhrkamp, Ivone Jakaša, Ellen van den Bogaard, Ivonne van Vlijmen-Willems, Silke Szymczak, Elke Rodriguez, Sascha Gerdes, Stephan Weidinger


BACKGROUND: Interleukin (IL)-13 is a key driver of inflammation and barrier dysfunction in atopic dermatitis (AD). While there is robust evidence that tralokinumab, a monoclonal antibody neutralizing IL-13, reduces inflammation and clinical disease activity, less is known about its effects on barrier function.

OBJECTIVES: To characterize effects of tralokinumab treatment on skin barrier function.

METHODS: Transepidermal water loss (TEWL), stratum corneum hydration (SCH), natural moisturizing factor (NMF) content, histopathological characteristics, biomarker expression and microbiome composition were evaluated in lesional, non-lesional, and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)-irritated skin of 16 AD patients over the course of 16 weeks of tralokinumab treatment.

RESULTS: All clinical severity scores decreased significantly over time. At week 16, mean TEWL in target lesions decreased by 32.66% (p = 0.01), and SCH increased by 58.44% (p = 0.004), along with histological reduction in spongiosis (p = 0.003), keratin 16 expression and epidermal thickness (p = 0.001). In parallel, there was a significant decrease in several barrier dysfunction-associated and pro-inflammatory proteins such as fibronectin (p = 0.006), CCL17/TARC (p = 0.025) and IL-8 (p = 0.014), with significant changes already at week 8. Total bacterial load and Staphylococcus aureus abundance were significantly reduced from week 2.

CONCLUSION: Tralokinumab treatment improves skin physiology, epidermal pathology, and dysbiosis, further highlighting the pleiotropic role of IL-13 in AD pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Dermatology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26.03.2024


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