[Atopic dermatitis and stress? How do emotions come into skin?]

Hautarzt. 2008 Apr;59(4):314-8. doi: 10.1007/s00105-008-1525-z.
[Article in German]


It is widely accepted, that stress can induce or exacerbate atopic dermatitis. The physiological mechanisms that mediate this negative influence of stress on atopic dermatitis are not clearly understood. This topic has been actively investigated in recent years focusing on neuroimmunological, psychoendocrinological studies and examination of integrity and function of skin barrier under stress. Different neuropeptides and neurotrophins seem to play an important role in stress-induced neurogenic inflammation and connection of nervous and immune system. Mast cells play a key role in the development of inflammatory reaction to stress. Skin barrier is altered by stress by means of increased cortisol level. Thereby lamellar body secretion is decreased and epidermal expression of antimicrobial peptides (beta-defensin and cathelicidin) is down-regulated. We review recent investigations in this field.

MeSH terms

  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / physiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / physiopathology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Mast Cells / physiology
  • Nerve Growth Factors / physiology
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Neuropeptides / physiology
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • beta-Defensins / physiology


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Neuropeptides
  • beta-Defensins
  • ropocamptide
  • Hydrocortisone