Pityrosporum and Candida specific and non-specific humoral, cellular and cytokine responses in atopic dermatitis patients


Johannes Savolainen, MediCity, University of Turku, Finland.


Recent cytokine (RT-PCR, ELISA) analyses of inflammation in atopic dermatitis (AD) have suggested a role for IL-4, IL-5 and IFNγ. Pityrosporum ovale and Candida albicans are important allergens in some patients with AD of the seborrhoic head, neck and shoulder region. In AD patients, the saprophytic yeasts induce IgE responses while they usually induce TH1 type responses. The cytokine responses induced by yeasts in AD are sparsely investigated.

To characterize the P. ovale- and C. albicans-specific and non-specific humoral, lymphoproliferative and cytokine (IL-2, 4, 5 and IFNγ) responses in AD.

Fifteen AD patients and seven healthy controls (HC) were included. Ficoll-isolated PBMC were stimulated by PHA and laboratory-generated extracts of P. ovale and C. albicans. Lymphocyte proliferation was measured by 3H-thymidine incorporation and cytokine production by sandwich-ELISAs. The antigen-specific IgG and IgE antibodies were analysed by ELISA and nitrocellulose RAST.

Pityrosporum ovale- and C. albicans-specific IgE (both P < 0.001) and P. ovale-induced PBMC proliferation (P < 0.02) were elevated in AD. In general, the IL-4/IFNγ ratio induced by P. ovale was higher than that induced by C. albicans (P < 0.01). The PHA-induced IL-2 (P < 0.05) and IL-4 responses (P < 0.005), and the C. albicans-induced IL-5 response (P < 0.02) and IFNγ response (P < 0.01), were elevated in AD. A network of correlations was seen between serum total and the yeast-specific IgE, P. ovale-specific lymphoproliferation, PHA-induced IL-2, IL-4 and IL-5, and C. albicans-induced IL-5.

The cytokine profiles found in this study support the role of TH0 or TH1 cells by the side of TH2 cells in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis. Pityrosporum ovale appears to be associated more with IL-4 responses and C. albicans with IFNγ responses.