Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a skin disease affecting almost 20% of the paediatric population worldwide and predisposes to other atopic diseases such as asthma and hay fever. Despite its relevance, current treatment for AD remains largely ineffective, mainly because (1) The lack of understanding of the precise pathogenic mechanisms for AD, and (2) The heterogeneity of patient cohorts, resulting from the diversity of potential genetic and environmental triggers, as well as from the different stages of the disease.
To aid the development of novel and effective treatment strategies for AD, we proposed the first mathematical model of this disease. Our model is a quantitative, mechanistic and systems-level representation of the interacting biochemical and cellular skin components that are known to underlie the development of AD. Dynamical simulations of our mathematical model capture the different clinical phases of AD, and clarify the role of the different genetic and environmental triggers in the disease development. Our results are congruent with several experimental and clinical findings, and provide a mechanistic explanation of the pathogenic process of AD. We used the results and predictions from our quantitative and systemic framework to design a novel patient-specific treatment regime that can prevent the progression from a mild to a severe form of AD, while the negative tissue-damaging effects are minimized.
Our mathematical model of AD provides a mechanistic, integrative and quantitative framework that can inform new and more effective treatment strategies that prevent the gradual disease aggravation of AD.