Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is a common skin condition characterized by patches of dry, red, itchy skin. An estimated 28 million Americans of all ages have eczema, although there is currently no cure for this condition and, until recently, its causes have been largely unknown and poorly understood . The latest research, however, has uncovered a specific genetic mutation that could be the underlying cause of eczema symptoms, and scientists believe that a particular amino acid may be the solution.
CARD 11 Genetic Mutation and Eczema
Within the genetic code of all humans, there are 20 amino acids that combine in various sequences to form codons. These codons contain specific instructions for your body’s cells to perform certain functions. Proteins are often the molecules responsible for carrying out these functions. For example, the genetic code that contains instructions to make pigmentation in the skin will be translated to a specific protein, which then uses that codon to signal to melanocyte cells which type of and how much melanin to produce .
When there is a mutation within the genetic code, the proteins that a specific codon typically produces may not be able to function properly. This is what researchers believe could be at the heart of eczema symptoms.
Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases examined four unrelated families with members who presented with severe eczema symptoms. It was found that eight of those individuals had a genetic mutation of the CARD11 gene, which provides instructions to create the CARD11 protein . While scientists are still unsure of the exact reasons why this mutation seems to cause eczema, it is apparent that the mutated CARD11 protein is unable to signal the cells in two different pathways, one of which is activated by the amino acid glutamine .
Future Implications for Eczema Treatment
Because glutamine plays such a key role in activating this negatively affected pathway, researchers believe that supplementing the skin with this amino acid could be a necessary component of developing advanced treatment options or even a potential cure for eczema . Thus, future research will be aimed at examining the effectiveness and mechanisms of glutamine supplements on eczema symptoms to determine whether or not this amino acid really could hold the key to treating this condition.
Benefits of Amino Acid Skin Care
In addition to playing key roles in protein synthesis and cell signaling, amino acids provide a number of direct benefits to the skin, so it’s not surprising that a glutamine supplement may help to alleviate eczema symptoms. Because amino acids are involved in the production of all proteins within the body, they are necessarily key components of the skin’s biosynthesis of collagen and elastin. Even when the body begins to naturally produce less of these proteins, topical amino acids can trigger specialized fibroblast cells to ramp up their production, resulting in the look and feel of smoother, younger, and healthier-looking skin.
Amino acids are also one of the primary components of what’s known as the skin’s natural moisturizing factor, or NMF. NMF is responsible for keeping the skin hydrated, as well as keeping harmful particles from penetrating the skin and causing infection and other unwanted effects. Therefore, by including amino acids in your daily skin care products, you can help to rebalance your skin’s natural hydration and barrier system, which are two essential components of caring for eczema and other dry, flaky skin conditions.
While more research is needed to further explore the possibility of using glutamine supplements to treat or even cure eczema, current research shows promising evidence that we could be getting closer to fully understanding what causes eczema and how we can more effectively manage it.
The key takeaway here is that there are still many more potential skin benefits of amino acids that have yet to be uncovered. In the meantime, you can give your skin the nourishment, hydration, and protection it needs by using expertly-formulated amino acid skin care products as part of your everyday skin care routine.