Skin barrier dysfunction is important in atopic dermatitis and can be secondary to inflammation. Observation of keratinocytes in culture may show intrinsic differences. TransEpithelial Electrical Resistance (TEER) measures epithelial permeability. We cultured normal and atopic keratinocytes and found that TEER of atopic keratinocytes was significantly lower (p < 0.0001) than that of normals. Atopic keratinocytes grew upwards, first creating isolated dome-like structures and later horizontally into a monolayer. At time of confluence (D0), atopic keratinocytes were more differentiated, with higher filaggrin gene expression than normals. No differences existed between groups for TJ proteins (claudin, occludin, and Zonula Occludens-1) on D0 and D6. On D6, claudin and occludin were higher than D0, in normal (p = 0.0296 and p = 0.0011) and atopic keratinocytes (p = 0.0348 and 0.0491). Immunofluorescent staining showed nuclear location of filaggrin on D0 and cytoplasmic on D6. ANOVA showed increased cell size from D0 to D6 in both groups (effect of time, p = 0.0076) but no differences between groups. Significant subject effect (p = 0.0022) was found, indicating that cell size was subject-dependent but not disease-dependent. No difference for continuity for TJ protein existed between groups. These observations suggest that decreased TEER in atopics is not linked to TJ differences but is possibly linked to different growth behavior.
Keywords: TEER; Tight junction; atopic dermatitis; dogs; filaggrin; keratinocytes.