July 6, 2017

Is eczema a result of genetic mutations?

Filaggrin binds to keratin fibers in the outmost skin cells. They enable the corneocytes to attach to each other and form strong barriers. When the epidermal cells finally form, Filaggrin precursors undergo an enzyme-mediated hydrolysis step to form functional aggregates. The FLG gene codes for the complete Filaggrin protein.

Why do we need Filaggrin?

It regulates skin formation and homeostasis. As the old layer of skin slowly dies and wears off due to regular scrubbing, exfoliation or even brushing against sleeves, the new layer of epidermal cells takes their place. If the new layer of cells does not possess active Filament Aggregating Protein molecules or Filaggrin, then they are incapable of forming protective barriers against external pollutants, allergens, and irritants. Further research also shows that these protein molecules also assist in water retention in skin cells. This is a crucial step in preserving the structural integrity of skin tissue.

Certain individuals possess a loss of function mutation in the FLG gene. This is a truncation of the functional gene, which can no longer form functional proteins. Any person with multiple copies of the mutated FLG gene is highly predisposed to ichthyosis vulgaris and eczema.

Eczema: demographic data

Recent studies inspired from McLean et al. show that over 50% of severe cases of eczema involve a loss of function mutation in the FLG gene. These mutations are heritable. If you suffer from an extreme case of eczema, it is likely that you have inherited at least one copy of the faulty FLG gene from each parent. The Caucasian population shows a predisposition towards truncation mutations of the gene involved. Almost 7% to 10% of the Caucasian population carries at least one copy of this mutation. Those unfortunate individuals, who have no active filaggrin gene, severe cases of asthma often accompanies these common skin disorders.

How can diet affect eczema?

Researchers also think that a sharp decrease in the consumption of green vegetables and a skewed ratio of omega-6-fatty acids to omega-3-fatty acids intake are affecting skin conditions. People without any mutated genes are also falling victim to dehydrated and flaky skin that need eczema-like care. Researchers are showing a drastic improvement of skin conditions by increasing the intake of linoleic acids and arachidonic acids. An increase in the uptake of n3-polyunsaturated acids also helps in controlling dry skin and eczema.

Filaggrin and eczema

Many people are curious about the role of filaggrin in treating eczema. We are still in need of a highly targeted treatment for the skin condition. It may affect over 30% of the global population, but treating a protein expression related disease by oral consumption of the protein is highly unlikely. It is theoretically possible to treat and cure eczema resulting from filaggrin deficiency by biological methods. No such procedures exist in real life as of now!

Eczema is annoying. It is distracting, and it is spreading. Knowing how to manage the symptoms of eczema is more important than finding out if you have FLG mutations. Once you get an idea about the frequency of occurrence and allergens involved, you will learn to understand and manage your skin condition more efficiently.  

Author Bio: Daniel Noels writes on stopitchy.com about eczema, its causes and implications. To know more about this skin condition follow the website.

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