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Keywords:

  • atopic eczema;
  • filaggrin;
  • FLG;
  • ichthyosis;
  • population genetics

Summary

Filaggrin is a key protein involved in skin barrier function. Mutations in the gene encoding filaggrin (FLG) have been identified as the cause of ichthyosis vulgaris and have been shown to be major predisposing factors for atopic eczema (AE), initially in European populations. Subsequently, FLG mutations were identified in Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese and Korean populations. It was demonstrated that FLG mutations are closely associated with AE in the Japanese population. Notably, the same FLG mutations identified in the European population were rarely found in Asians. These results exemplify differences in filaggrin population genetics between Europe and Asia. For mutation screening, background information needs to be obtained on prevalent FLG mutations for each geographical population. It is therefore important to establish the global population genetics maps for FLG mutations. Mutations at any site within FLG, even mutations in C-terminal imperfect filaggrin repeats, cause significant reductions in amounts of profilaggrin/filaggrin peptide in patient epidermis as the C-terminal region is essential for proper processing of profilaggrin into filaggrin. Thus, no genotype–phenotype correlation has been observed in patients with FLG mutations. A restoration of the barrier function seems a feasible and promising strategy for treatment and prevention in individuals with filaggrin deficiency.