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Filaggrin Gene Linked to Eczema in Adulthood

Combination of null alleles increases the risk of atopic dermatitis by over sevenfold

THURSDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Null mutations in the filaggrin gene are strongly linked to early-onset atopic dermatitis that persists into adulthood, according to a report in the March issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

William H.I. McLean, Ph.D., of the University of Dundee, U.K., and colleagues measured allele frequency of two common filaggrin gene (FLG) null mutations in a cohort of adult patients with persistent atopic dermatitis that began in childhood.

The investigators found that the combined frequency of two common null mutations of FLG -- R501X and 2282del4 -- was 0.270 and was associated with a 7.7 odds ratio for atopic dermatitis. The association was highly significant in a chi-square test.

"Our data conclusively demonstrate that identification of FLG null alleles is an indicator of a poor prognosis in atopic dermatitis, predisposing to a form of eczema that starts in early infancy and persists into adulthood," the authors write. Further studies testing populations outside of Europe and the identification of genetic modifiers are necessary before FLG testing can be translated to patient benefit, according to an editorial by Alan Irvine, M.D., from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.

McLean has filed patents on genetic testing and therapy relating to filaggrin.

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