Gene expression of cytokines in atopic eczema before and after ultraviolet A1 phototherapy

Br J Dermatol. 2008 May;158(5):1117-20. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2008.08498.x. Epub 2008 Mar 20.


Background: Atopic eczema (AE) is a common pruritic and chronically relapsing inflammatory skin disease in which cytokines seem to represent important factors in the pathogenesis.

Objectives: We aimed to investigate cytokine mRNA expression in the skin of patients with AE who underwent a course of ultraviolet A1 (UVA1) phototherapy.

Methods: We studied 21 patients diagnosed with extrinsic AE who were treated with a 6-week course of UVA1 phototherapy. Skin biopsies were taken from healthy controls (n=18) and patients with AE at baseline and after the last UVA1 exposure. Quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction was performed for interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-13 and IL-31.

Results: A significant reduction of the clinical scores was observed after treatment with UVA1. Except for IL-4, cytokine mRNA expression was significantly increased prior to phototherapy when compared with controls. mRNA levels of IL-4 and IL-10 before UVA1 did not significantly differ from levels observed after UVA1. However, a significant decrease of IL-5, IL-13 and IL-31 mRNA expression was observed following UVA1 treatment. IL-31 mRNA levels were even adjusted to the levels of healthy controls.

Conclusions: We have shown that the resolution of extrinsic AE lesions following phototherapy is accompanied by significant reduction of mRNA expression of IL-5, IL-13 and IL-31, supporting current concepts that these cytokines play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of extrinsic AE and possibly represent targets for phototherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / metabolism*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / radiotherapy
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Interleukins / genetics
  • Interleukins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Ultraviolet Therapy* / methods


  • Interleukins
  • RNA, Messenger