Clinical Edge

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Tape Strips Useful to Identify Biomarkers in Skin of Young Children With Atopic Dermatitis

Key clinical point: Adhesive tape strips can be used instead of skin biopsies to collect samples from children with atopic dermatitis (AD).

Major finding: Skin samples taken with adhesive tape detected key AD biomarkers with 99% success rate.

Study details: Cross-sectional study in 21 young children with moderate to severe AD and 30 without AD.

Disclosures: The study was supported by the Northwestern University Skin Disease Research Center and the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute, and partly by a grant to two authors from Regeneron and Sanofi. Dr. Guttman-Yassky reported receiving grants from Regeneron during the study and had other disclosures related to multiple pharmaceutical companies. Another author also received grants from Regeneron during the study, and another author had disclosures related to various manufacturers; no disclosures were reported for the remaining authors.


Guttman-Yassky E et al. JAMA Dermatol. 2019 Oct 9. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2019.2983.


Skin biomarkers of atopic dermatitis (AD) are not well studied in children despite the fact that the disease largely affects this age group. Part of the challenge is the difficulty obtaining samples from children because phlebotomy and skin biopsies can cause trauma and anxiety both in children and their guardians. Better, noninvasive sampling techniques are needed.

This and another recent study show that tape stripping achieves skin samples that can provide clinically relevant AD DNA-expression levels and biomarkers that have been shown in multiple other studies – including some AD biomarkers not previously reported. Importantly, these biomarkers distinguish between children with AD and those without, and even between lesional and nonlesional skin.

While it remains to be seen if these biomarkers can predict disease outcomes or response to medication, this study shows that tape stripping in children with AD is a viable and useful method for future studies.

Leslie Castelo-Soccio, MD, PhD, is with the department of dermatology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. These comments are adapted from an accompanying editorial (JAMA Dermatol. 2019 Oct 9. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2019.2792). No conflicts of interest were reported.