Subjects with atopic dermatitis and autoimmune disorders share some similar immune response disorders. The aim of this study was to see whether subjects with early onset atopic dermatitis run a risk of eventually developing autoimmune diseases. The results of a questionnaire of 145 adolescents (70 f, 75 m, mean age 18.2 years, range 16-23 years) was compared with those of a group of 262 controls (112 f, 150 m, mean age 17.5 years, range 16-21 years), 164 of whom reported no atopic symptoms and were treated as a separate group for statistical analysis. As compared with the non-atopic controls, the study group subjects showed a significantly increased incidence of autoimmune disorders (9% vs. 1%), the relative risk ratio of a subject with infantile onset atopic eczema getting a gastrointestinal (GI) immune-mediated disease being 2.4 (CI(95)2.1-2.8) and of getting some other autoimmune disorder 3.1 (CI(95)2.8-9.7). The positive skin prick tests showed a negative association with the manifestation of a GI or other autoimmune disorder. The subjects with infantile dermatitis also reported recurrent abdominal pains (23% vs. 15%), and milk-induced gastrointestinal symptoms (19% vs. 10%) significantly more even as young adults than the controls. Our study showed that infantile atopy increases a predisposition to autoimmune disorders, suggesting that these two entities might have a common immunological determinant. While a high incidence of chronic GI complaints among the study subjects suggests the ongoing activity of local immune responses. However, more detailed prospective studies are needed to confirm these observations.
Allergic and autoimmune diseases have been suggested to be inversely associated. We investigated the association between atopy and development of any and specific types of autoimmune disease.
We included a total of 14,849 individuals from five population-based studies with measurements of atopy defined as specific IgE positivity against inhalant allergens. We followed the participants by linkage to the Danish National Patient Register (median follow-up time 11.2 years). Hazard ratio (HR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) of autoimmune disease were estimated by Cox regression.
We found no statistically significant associations between atopy and autoimmune disease, but we cannot exclude relatively small to moderate effects - protective or promotive - of atopy on autoimmune disease.