Studies to better understand skin infections associated with Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Atopic dermatitis study participants

Purpose of the study

Atopic dermatitis (AD), often referred to as eczema, is a chronic condition of the skin that affects 5-10% of Americans or 15-30 million people. People with AD have dry, itchy skin that can become infected with bacteria or viruses. This disease is often cyclical with periods of worsening symptoms (relapses or flares) and periods where the disease improves. Although the specific causes of AD have not been identified, it is thought to occur from a combination of genetic, immunologic and environmental factors.

The Atopic Dermatitis Research Network (ADRN), sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a consortium of academic medical centers, is seeking to better understand why people with AD experience more skin infections. The researchers will focus on Staphylococcus aureus infections and widespread viral infections of the skin, both of which are more prevalent among AD patients.

Who may take part in studies

The screening information below is a first step in determining if you qualify for these studies.
  • Males and females between 3 and 80 years of age who have atopic dermatitis (AD)
  • People between 8 months and 80 years of age who have a history of, or an active case of eczema herpeticum (wide-spread herpes skin infection along with AD).
  • We are enrolling people regardless of race and ethnicity, but we have a special need to enroll Caucasians, African Americans and Mexican Americans.
Those under 18 years of age must have a parent or legal guardian provide informed consent for them.

What will you receive for participating?

  • Study-related medical evaluation, including physical exam and test results
  • Education and information about atopic dermatitis
  • Financial compensation for qualified participants

What does taking part in these studies involve?

In the next five years, the consortium will conduct clinical research studies that that focus on bacterial skin infections associated with AD, particularly Staphylococcus aureus infections. Taking part in these studies involves entry into the ADRN Registry study. In this study, we will collect your personal and health information, swabs of your skin and a small amount of blood. In addition, we will ask you to agree to be contacted in the future to determine if you are interested in taking part in other ADRN studies.

About the Atopic Dermatitis Research Network (ADRN)

The ADRN is a consortium of academic medical centers, established and funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 2004. Consortium investigators studied a group of individuals with both AD and a history of eczema herpeticum (eczema along with a widespread herpes simplex skin infection). Several important insights emerged and include the following:
  • There is a close relationship between AD and a skin barrier defect.
  • Atopic individuals produce proteins in their skin that result in reduced expression of key skin barrier protein called filaggrin.
  • Atopic dermatitis individuals who get eczema herpeticum have lower levels of naturally occurring antibiotics (antimicrobial peptides) and higher levels of the allergic marker in the blood called IgE, than those with AD alone.
  • These same individuals are more reactive to a number of environmental allergens and more likely to report a history of other atopic disorders such as asthma or food allergy.
  • Atopic dermatitis individuals who get eczema herpeticum also report more bacterial skin infections needing prescription systemic antibiotics.
  • Genetic markers have been identified that are different in AD individuals who get eczema herpeticum and those who do not get this viral skin infection, and healthy individuals without atopy. The genes identified to date:
  • Filaggrin (FLG)
  • Thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP)