Investigator: Isabelle Carlavan
Rosacea is a common chronic inflammatory skin disease of unknown etiology. Our knowledge about an involvement of the adaptive immune system is very limited. We performed detailed transcriptome analysis, qRT-PCR, and quantitative immunohistochemistry on facial biopsies of rosacea patients, classified according to their clinical subtype. As controls, we used samples from healthy controls. Our study shows significant activation of the immune system in all subtypes of rosacea, characterizing erythematotelangiectatic rosacea (ETR) already as a disease with significant influx of proinflammatory cells. The T cell response is dominated by Th1/Th17-polarized immune cells, as demonstrated by significant upregulation of IFNγ or IL-17, for example. Chemokine expression patterns support a Th1/Th17 polarization profile of the T cell response. Macrophages and mast cells are increased in all three subtypes of rosacea, while neutrophils reach a maximum in papulopustular rosacea. Our studies also provide evidence for activation of plasma cells with significant antibody production already in ETR, followed by a crescendo pattern towards phymatous rosacea. In sum, Th1/Th17 polarized inflammation and macrophage infiltration is an underestimated hallmark in all subtypes of rosacea. Therapies directly targeting the Th1/Th17 pathway are promising candidates in the future treatment of this skin disease.