The prevalence of atopic eczema has been linked with climatic conditions. Researchers undertook a cross-sectional, population-based survey of 28,394 school children aged six to seven years, in three climatic regions in Spain, to examine this association. Atopic eczema prevalence varied according to climatic region. It was 32.9 per cent in the Atlantic region, 28.3 per cent in the Mediterranean region and 31.2 per cent in the Continental region. The researchers conclude that atopic eczema is significantly dependent on meteorological conditions, being positively associated with rainfall and humidity, and negatively associated with temperature and hours of sunshine.
Suarez-Varela MM, Garcia-Marcos Alvarez L, Kogan MD et al. Int J Biometeorol 2008; 52: 833-40
It has long been known that genetic predisposition is an important cause of psoriasis. An international study involving researchers in the UK, US, Spain, Italy, France and The Netherlands has now identified two genes that have an important part to play in determining a person's susceptibility to the condition. The results of the study showed that people lacking LCE3B and LCE3C were more likely to develop psoriasis. These genes appear to be involved in the skin's response to damage, so a lack of them may leave the skin relatively unprotected against the sequence of damage and inflammation that leads to the development of psoriasis. The researchers say that what is especially interesting for the UK population is the fact that people are more likely to lack these genes than to have them.
De Cid R, Riveira-Munoz E, Zeeuwen PL et al. Nat Genet 2009; 41: 211-15
In the past, research has demonstrated an association between tea or coffee consumption and lower incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers, while studies in mice have shown that caffeine helps to eliminate UV-damaged cells by triggering apoptosis. Now a study using cultured primary human keratinocytes has pinpointed that caffeine interrupts a checkpoint in the cell cycle, known as ATR-Chk1, causing the cell to self-destruct. The effect was only observed in cells that had been damaged by UV. The researchers say a topical caffeine treatment might one day be developed to minimise or reverse the effects of UV damage in humans.
Heffernan TP, Kawasumi M, Blasina A et al. J Invest Dermatol 2009; doi: 10.1038/jid.2008.435
Studies suggest that stress could be a possible co-factor for the initiation and progression of cancer. A study in the US has investigated the effect of the catecholamine stress hormone noradrenaline on three human melanoma cell lines, one of which represented the most aggressive and advanced form of melanoma. Treatment of the cell lines with noradrenaline increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (which plays a key role in angiogenesis), interleukin-6 and interleukin-8 (both of which foster tumour growth) in all three cell lines, but especially in the most aggressive line. The researchers also went on to demonstrate that treatment with beta-blockers significantly reduced the production of all three of these proteins.
Yang EV, Kim SJ, Donovan EL et al. Brain Behav Immun 2009; 23: 267-75
A new foot wound care teaching model, called Betty, has been developed by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire. Betty has been designed to illustrate common diabetic foot problems, such as callus formation and crowded toes, and includes a removable pressure ulcer, a neuropathic ulcer and gangrenous toes. Last year, the tissue viability team in the University's School of Nursing and Midwifery developed George, a three-dimensional model of a man complete with a pressure ulcer, a surgical incision that can be removed to reveal a large abdominal wound and a removable fungating tumour.
Email suggestions to The Editor of MIMS Dermatology at email@example.com.