The development of atopic dermatitis (AD) in infancy and subsequent allergic rhinitis and asthma in later childhood is known as the atopic march. This progressive atopy is dependent on various underlying factors such as the presence of filaggrin mutations as well as the time of onset and severity of AD. Clinical manifestations vary among individuals. Previously it was thought that atopic disorders may be unrelated with sequential development. Recent studies support the idea of a causal link between AD and later onset atopic disorders. These studies suggest that a dysfunctional skin barrier serves as a site for allergic sensitization to antigens and colonization of bacterial super antigens. This induces systemic Th2 immunity that predisposes patients to allergic nasal responses and promotes airway hyper reactivity. While AD often starts early in life and is a chronic condition, new research signifies that there may be an optimal window of time in which targeting the skin barrier with therapeutic interventions may prevent subsequent atopic disorders. In this review we highlight recent studies describing factors important in the development of atopic disorders and new insights in our understanding of the pathogenesis of the atopic march.
Keywords: Allergic rhinitis; Asthma; Atopic dermatitis; Eczema; The atopic march.