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Increased salt concentration in diseased skin has been demonstrated
Allergies and skin diseases such as neurodermatitis are very common in industrialized countries such as Germany. Around every third person develops an allergy in the course of their life, on average every tenth child suffers from neurodermatitis. The causes that lead to an allergy are still unknown. A German research team has now shown in a study that common table salt is involved in the allergic immune reactions of the skin.
A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) made a great discovery in allergic reactions that affect the skin. Salt in the body apparently influences the allergic reactions, which are responsible for neurodermatitis, among other things. The researchers showed for the first time that salt is directly linked to reactions in the immune system that lead to the body's defense against its own organism. The research results were recently published in the renowned journal "Science Translational Medcine".
Vital table salt as a trigger for allergies?
Table salt is vital for humans and animals, because salt regulates the body's electrolyte and fluid balance. Without salt, numerous metabolic processes could not take place, necessary nutrients could not be dissolved, and residual products could not be removed. Too much salt is considered unhealthy and is suspected of causing high blood pressure. The latest research results from TUM now link the salt to allergic reactions.
How do allergic immune reactions develop?
As the TUM researchers report, so-called T cells play an important role in immune diseases. These cells are part of the immune system and usually ensure that potential pathogens are disposed of. In allergic diseases, however, there is a malfunction in the T cells, which incorrectly leads to components of the own body being attacked.
What does salt have to do with allergic reactions?
Professor Christina Zielinski's team found that salt helps re-program T cells into the Th2 cell subset. According to the study, the Th2 cells ensure that the messenger substances interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13 (IL-13) are released. IL-4 and IL-13 in turn always appear in connection with allergic reactions of the skin. "Signals of the ions from the salt therefore play a role in the formation and control of Th2 cells," explains Professor Zielinski in a press release on the study results. Exactly what causes this incorrect control is still unknown.
High levels of salt in the skin in people with eczema
In further investigations, the team measured the salt concentration in diseased skin areas of people with neurodermatitis. It was found that the sodium value in the skin affected by eczema is up to 30 times higher than in healthy skin. "The increased sodium levels in the affected skin go well with another property of neurodermatitis," explains the expert. It has been known for a long time that there is a strong accumulation of the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium in those affected by neurodermatitis. These bacteria can reproduce particularly well under salty conditions.
Should allergy sufferers reduce their salt intake?
As part of the current study, the researchers were unable to find out how the high amounts of salt get into the skin. "Nor do we know whether a low-salt or high-salt diet can influence the development or course of neurodermatitis or other allergic diseases," summarizes Zielinski. This should now become the central theme of a study that builds on this knowledge. (vb)