Dupilumab progressively improves systemic and cutaneous abnormalities in patients with atopic dermatitis

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2019 Jan;143(1):155-172. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2018.08.022. Epub 2018 Sep 5.


Background: Dupilumab is an IL-4 receptor α mAb inhibiting signaling of IL-4 and IL-13, key drivers of type 2-driven inflammation, as demonstrated by its efficacy in patients with atopic/allergic diseases.

Objective: This placebo-controlled, double-blind trial (NCT01979016) evaluated the efficacy, safety, and effects of dupilumab on molecular/cellular lesional and nonlesional skin phenotypes and systemic type 2 biomarkers of patients with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (AD).

Methods: Skin biopsy specimens and blood were evaluated from 54 patients randomized 1:1 to weekly subcutaneous doses of 200 mg of dupilumab or placebo for 16 weeks.

Results: Dupilumab (vs placebo) significantly improved clinical signs and symptoms of AD, was well tolerated, and progressively shifted the lesional transcriptome toward a nonlesional phenotype (weeks 4-16). Mean improvements in a meta-analysis-derived AD transcriptome (genes differentially expressed between lesional and nonlesional skin) were 68.8% and 110.8% with dupilumab and -10.5% and 55.0% with placebo (weeks 4 and 16, respectively; P < .001). Dupilumab significantly reduced expression of genes involved in type 2 inflammation (IL13, IL31, CCL17, CCL18, and CCL26), epidermal hyperplasia (keratin 16 [K16] and MKi67), T cells, dendritic cells (ICOS, CD11c, and CTLA4), and TH17/TH22 activity (IL17A, IL-22, and S100As) and concurrently increased expression of epidermal differentiation, barrier, and lipid metabolism genes (filaggrin [FLG], loricrin [LOR], claudins, and ELOVL3). Dupilumab reduced lesional epidermal thickness versus placebo (week 4, P = .001; week 16, P = .0002). Improvements in clinical and histologic measures correlated significantly with modulation of gene expression. Dupilumab also significantly suppressed type 2 serum biomarkers, including CCL17, CCL18, periostin, and total and allergen-specific IgEs.

Conclusion: Dupilumab-mediated inhibition of IL-4/IL-13 signaling through IL-4 receptor α blockade significantly and progressively improved disease activity, suppressed cellular/molecular cutaneous markers of inflammation and systemic measures of type 2 inflammation, and reversed AD-associated epidermal abnormalities.

Keywords: Atopic dermatitis; IL-4 receptor α inhibition; dupilumab; epidermal pathology; gene expression; skin; transcriptome; type 2 inflammation.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / drug therapy
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / metabolism
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / pathology
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Filaggrin Proteins
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin* / immunology
  • Skin* / metabolism
  • Skin* / pathology
  • Transcriptome / drug effects*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • FLG protein, human
  • Filaggrin Proteins
  • dupilumab

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01979016