• Press Release

Mount Sinai Researcher Identifies Single Gene Biomarker to Differentiate Between Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis Using Adhesive Tape Strips

For first time, researchers may be able to provide a non-invasive alternative to skin biopsy to correctly distinguish between two highly inflammatory diseases

  • New York, NY
  • (July 21, 2020)

Mount Sinai researchers have pinpointed a single gene biomarker, nitride oxide synthase 2 (NOS2)  that  can distinguish atopic dermatitis (AD) and psoriasis with 100 percent accuracy using adhesive tape strips, a non-invasive alternative to skin biopsy. The research was published online today in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

The study was led by Emma Guttman-Yassky, MD, PhD, Sol and Clara Kest Professor and Vice Chair of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. It evaluated tape strips obtained from 20 adults with moderate to severe AD, 20 with moderate to severe psoriasis, and 20 healthy individuals. From each subject, 20 tape strips were collected, some from lesions and the rest from clinically unaffected skin. The skin cells collected from the tape strips were subjected to global molecular profiling for identification of disease-related biomarkers.

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is an inflammatory, extremely itchy skin disorder that affects more than 31 million adults in the United States, including 10 to 20 percent of children. Psoriasis is a skin disorder that causes red, itchy scaly patches; it has no cure and affects more than 8 million people in the United States. 

“In the past, skin tissue biopsies have always been considered the gold standard for distinguishing between inflammatory skin diseases, but they can cause pain, scarring, and increased risk of infection,” said Dr. Guttman-Yassky, whose past revolutionary research on AD focused on the mechanism underlying the disease and promoted development of targeted therapeutics for it. “This study shows that using adhesive tape strips may provide a minimally invasive alternative to skin biopsies for monitoring biomarkers of patients with these particular skin diseases and beyond.”

The researchers also captured other genes related to immune and epidermal barrier function that were dysregulated in AD and/or psoriasis, and that distinguished each disease from the other. For example, tape strips from AD patients strongly expressed cell markers related to T-helper 2 (Th2) immune response, which is characteristic to AD, while psoriasis patients displayed much higher levels of Th1 and Th17 cytokines, which are characteristic to psoriasis.

Dr. Guttman-Yassky added that the molecular phenotypes described in the study were notably in accord with previous reports from skin biopsy studies and with the current mechanistic understanding of both diseases.

“This revolutionary study emphasizes the great need for better understanding immune and barrier alterations in both adults and children living with inflammatory skin disease,” said Mark Lebwohl, MD, Waldman Professor and Chair of Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “The results of this study may help provide a useful alternative to the invasive method of skin biopsies to track cutaneous disease activity in future clinical trials.”


About the Mount Sinai Health System

Mount Sinai Health System is one of the largest academic medical systems in the New York metro area, with more than 43,000 employees working across eight hospitals, over 400 outpatient practices, nearly 300 labs, a school of nursing, and a leading school of medicine and graduate education. Mount Sinai advances health for all people, everywhere, by taking on the most complex health care challenges of our time — discovering and applying new scientific learning and knowledge; developing safer, more effective treatments; educating the next generation of medical leaders and innovators; and supporting local communities by delivering high-quality care to all who need it.

Through the integration of its hospitals, labs, and schools, Mount Sinai offers comprehensive health care solutions from birth through geriatrics, leveraging innovative approaches such as artificial intelligence and informatics while keeping patients’ medical and emotional needs at the center of all treatment. The Health System includes approximately 7,300 primary and specialty care physicians; 13 joint-venture outpatient surgery centers throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and more than 30 affiliated community health centers. We are consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report's Best Hospitals, receiving high "Honor Roll" status, and are highly ranked: No. 1 in Geriatrics and top 20 in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Neurology/Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology/Lung Surgery, Rehabilitation, and Urology. New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked No. 12 in Ophthalmology. U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Children’s Hospitals” ranks Mount Sinai Kravis Children's Hospital among the country’s best in several pediatric specialties. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: It is consistently ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools," aligned with a U.S. News & World Report "Honor Roll" Hospital, and top 20 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding and top 5 in the nation for numerous basic and clinical research areas. Newsweek’s “The World’s Best Smart Hospitals” ranks The Mount Sinai Hospital as No. 1 in New York and in the top five globally, and Mount Sinai Morningside in the top 20 globally.

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