Background: Sweating plays a key role in skin homeostasis, including antimicrobial and moisturizing effects, and regulation of skin surface pH. Impaired axon reflex-mediated (AXR) sweating has been observed in patients with atopic dermatitis (AD). However, the mechanism of such abnormal sudomotor axon reflex remains to be revealed. Methods: To investigate this mechanism, sudomotor function was analyzed using a quantitative sudomotor axon reflex test (acetylcholine iontophoresis) in patients with AD (n = 26) and healthy volunteers (n = 12). Correlation between sudomotor function and certain background factors, including Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory score, Severity Scoring of Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) score, number of circulating eosinophils, and serum concentrations of thymus and activation-regulated chemokine and immunoglobulin E radioimmunosorbent test, was validated. Results: Latency time was significantly prolonged in AD (p = 0.0352), and AXR sweating volume (mg/0-5 min) was significantly lower in AD patients than in healthy controls (p = 0.0441). Direct sweating volume (mg/0-5 min) was comparable in AD patients and healthy controls. A significant correlation between the evaluation results of quantitative sudomotor axon reflex tests and certain background factors was not observed. The latency time in non-lesioned and lesioned areas for AD patients versus continuous anxiety value in the Spielberger State Trait Anxiety Inventory and the AXR versus SCORAD showed significant correlations (p = 0.0424, p = 0.0169, and p = 0.0523, respectively). Conclusions: Although the number of study subjects was little, abnormal AXR sweating in patients with AD was observed. Correlative analysis suggests possible involvement of continuous anxiety and the immune system in such abnormal sudomotor function.
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