SOURCE: Andersen YM, Egeberg A, Gislason GH, et al. Autoimmune diseases in adults with atopic dermatitis. J Am Acad Dermatol 2017;76:274-280.

Atopic dermatitis has been viewed as a disorder of immune regulation primarily involving T-helper cells. The common association between atopic dermatitis, asthma, and allergic rhinitis supports the concept of shared immunologic abnormalities. But the list of autoimmune disorders linked with atopic dermatitis has expanded to include vitiligo, alopecia, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease.

The Danish National Patient Registry provides a window of observation into the association of atopic dermatitis with other autoimmune disorders. All Danes receive lifetime universal health insurance, and the registries represent both inpatient and outpatient data.

Based on hospital discharge diagnoses of atopic dermatitis (n = 8,112) in the 1997-2012 interval, an association of atopic dermatitis was found with autoimmune disorders as well as urticaria, celiac disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, ankylosing spondylitis, and rheumatoid arthritis. These associations were stronger among smokers.

Of course, association does not prove causation. Hopefully, the immunologic links between these disorders will provide keys to their successful management.