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Transmission electron microscopy studies in an experimental model of canine atopic dermatitis

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Impairment of skin barrier function has been hypothesized in canine atopic dermatitis (AD). In this prospective, controlled study, the ultrastructure of the upper epidermal layers was investigated using an experimental model of canine AD. Seven atopic Beagles sensitized to Dermatophagoides farinae and four healthy Beagles were used as controls. Both normal and atopic dogs were challenged with D. farinae for 3 days. Clinical signs were scored and skin biopsies were taken from the inguinal area before and 3 days after allergen exposure. Samples were processed to enhance lipid visibility and evaluated by Transmission Electron Microscopy. Emphasis was placed on evaluation of the lipid lamellae (LL), and lamellar bodies (LB) of the stratum corneum.

After allergen challenge, atopic Beagles developed severe pruritic dermatitis while no skin lesions were noted in the controls. Ultrastructurally, before allergen challenge, atopic Beagles displayed focally severe abnormalities in LL organization and wider intercellular spaces containing abnormal lipid material. In atopic Beagles, LBs were frequently found inside corneocytes while this finding was not observed in the controls. After allergen challenge, further increase of intercellular spaces was observed in the stratum corneum of atopic Beagles while no appreciable changes were observed in the normal dogs. Intercellular spaces in atopic Beagles were filled with abundant amounts of abnormal lipid material and highly disorganized LL. It is concluded that baseline differences in the ultrastructure of the skin exist between normal and experimentally sensitized atopic Beagles and that these changes are aggravated by allergen challenge and the resulting flare-up of dermatitis.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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