Receptor and nutrition influence skin barrier

Researchers from the IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine showed that the aryl hydrocarbon receptor plays a central role in skin barrier integrity, and that the skin barrier can be influenced by nutrition.

Düsseldorf, 28-Nov-2016. In order to develop preventive strategies, the IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine investigates how environmental factors can harm human health. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor is a cellular sensor for a range of chemical compounds. Such compounds can be generated in the skin by UV-light, but are also abundant environmental pollutants, including air pollution. Also some dietary plants contain substances, which can interact with this receptor. Recent research showed that the aryl hydrocarbon receptor plays an important role in the protective function of the gut and the skin.

The IUF showed in a mouse model that the absence of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor can lead to high transepidermal water loss, a characteristic sign of reduced skin barrier function. The study was now published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. The same observation was made if the receptor was present but its chemical interaction partners (“ligands”) were missing from the diet. Addition of indole-3-carbinol, a ligand-precursor, to the diet could restore skin barrier integrity. Indole-3-carbinol is naturally found in broccoli, and other cruciferous plants.

Further studies shall clarify if the aryl hydrocarbon receptor can be used in therapeutic approaches for humans and if relevant dietary interventions can be safely used. „The skin barrier is essential for our health. We search for possibilities to maintain skin barrier integrity and to counteract pathological changes like neurodermatitis or atopic eczema“, says Prof. Esser, head of the study at IUF in Düsseldorf. The research was conducted in cooperation with institutes from the universities Düsseldorf, Bonn and Mainz as well as the German Sport University Cologne.

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Haas K, Weighardt H, Deenen R, Köhrer K, Clausen B, Zahner S, Boukamp P, Bloch W, Krutmann J, Esser C: Aryl hydrocarbon receptor in keratinocytes is essential for murine skin barrier integrity. J Invest Dermatol 136 (11): 2260-2269, 2016.

About the IUF
The IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine investigates the molecular mechanisms through which particles, radiation and environmental chemicals harm human health. The main working areas are environmentally induced aging of the cardiovascular system and the skin as well as disturbances of the nervous and immune system. Through development of novel model systems the IUF contributes to the improvement of risk assessment and the development of novel strategies for the prevention / therapy of environmentally induced health damage.

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IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine
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