The atopic march and atopic multimorbidity: Many trajectories, many pathways

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2019 Jan;143(1):46-55. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2018.11.006. Epub 2018 Nov 17.


The atopic march recognizes the increased occurrence of asthma, allergic rhinitis, or both after atopic dermatitis (AD) onset. Mechanisms for developing atopic comorbidities after AD onset are poorly understood but can involve the impaired cutaneous barrier, which facilitates cutaneous sensitization. The association can also be driven or amplified in susceptible subjects by a systemic TH2-dominant immune response to cutaneous inflammation. However, these associations might merely involve shared genetic loci and environmental triggers, including microbiome dysregulation, with the temporal sequence reflecting tissue-specific peak time of occurrence of each disease, suggesting more of a clustering of disorders than a march. Prospective longitudinal cohort studies provide an opportunity to explore the relationships between postdermatitis development of atopic disorders and potential predictive phenotypic, genotypic, and environmental factors. Recent investigations implicate disease severity and persistence, age of onset, parental atopic history, filaggrin (FLG) mutations, polysensitization, and the nonrural environment among risk factors for development of multiple atopic comorbidities in young children with AD. Early intervention studies to repair the epidermal barrier or alter exposure to the microbiome or allergens might elucidate the relative roles of barrier defects, genetic locus alterations, and environmental exposures in the risk and sequence of occurrence of TH2 activation disorders.

Keywords: Atopic dermatitis; allergic rhinitis; asthma; atopic march; endotypes; epidermal barrier; food allergy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Asthma* / genetics
  • Asthma* / immunology
  • Asthma* / pathology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / genetics
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic* / pathology
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Filaggrin Proteins
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / genetics
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / immunology
  • Multimorbidity*
  • Mutation
  • Rhinitis, Allergic* / genetics
  • Rhinitis, Allergic* / immunology
  • Rhinitis, Allergic* / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin / immunology
  • Skin / pathology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / pathology


  • FLG protein, human
  • Filaggrin Proteins
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins