Background Attempts to identify predictors of atopic dermatitis (AD) have focused on genetic and immunologic factors. However, the role of neuro-mediators remains to be elucidated.
Objective To evaluate nerve growth factor (NGF) and vaso-active intestinal peptide (VIP) in predicting paediatric AD and assess their correlation with intrinsic and extrinsic types of AD.
Methods We performed a nested case–control study in the prospective Taiwan birth panel cohort study. Cord and maternal plasma and questionnaires were gathered at birth. During follow-up, we identified 40 available AD cases, which were matched to 80 unaffected controls chosen from this cohort. The concentrations of IgE, NGF, and VIP in cord and maternal plasma of these subjects were performed by ELISA. Receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves were generated to see how well each biomarker could predict AD.
Results The NGF levels were significantly higher in AD patients than controls (mean±SD: 65.47±44.45 vs. 49.21±12.18 pg/mL for cord plasma and 89.68±41.04 vs. 66.96±23.05 pg/mL for maternal plasma) (P<0.05). VIP levels were also higher but not statistically significant. Plasma NGF may be a better biomarker than IgE in detecting paediatric AD (area under the ROC curve=0.65 vs. 0.61 for cord plasma and 0.69 vs. 0.61 for maternal plasma). Maternal NGF levels were significantly higher in patients with both intrinsic (96.18±48.15 pg/mL) and extrinsic (86.18±37.23 pg/mL) types of AD compared with controls (66.96±23.05 pg/mL) (P<0.05). We assessed a significant correlation between self-reported stress during pregnancy and maternal NGF levels (r=0.22, P=0.02).
Conclusion Our results suggest that NGF is a good alternative biomarker in predicting children with a risk of AD.