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RNA Monitoring Offers Non-Invasive Detection of Infantile Atopic Dermatitis


The new technique analyzes RNA from infant sebum samples.

Researchers have developed an innovative, breakthrough method of atopic dermatitis (AD) detection that allows for non-invasive detection of early onset in infants, known as RNA monitoring.


Kao Corporation recently announcedthe innovation via a press release.1

“Our results confirm that the RNA monitoring method is useful for the early detection of AD in infants and may also be used for their treatment monitoring in the future,” said Kiwako Yamamoto-Hanada, MD, PhD, in the press release. Yamamoto-Hanada is chief of the Allergy Center at the National Center for Child Health and Development (NCCHD) in Japan.

“Infants often have multiple eczemas and experience repeated exacerbations and remissions. With our method, the timely treatment of early-onset AD can be realized, enabling an improvement in the quality of life for infants with AD and their families,” she said.

The breakthrough method came as a result of a study2 published earlier this year in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

In the study, researchers sought to examine the pathogenesis of AD with early onset using skin surface lipid-RNA examination. They cited prior research3 exploring the presence of RNA molecules in sebum.

Researchers recruited 1-month old infants (n=98) for participation in the study. All infants were born at the NCCHD between July and November 2020 and made visits to the center at 1, 2, and 6 months old. All infants were assessed for AD and had their skin evaluated by allergists.

Researchers then collected skin surface lipid (SSL) and sebum samples from the infants’ faces using blotting film. These samples underwent RNA preparation and an AmpliSeq transcriptomic analysis. They also collected demographic and AD-specific clinical data, including sex, body weight and height at birth, family history of AD, family history of allergies, Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) score, and presence of neonatal acne or other skin diagnoses.

Upon conducting gene set variation analyses (GSVA), researchers found that “the GSVA score derived from the SSL-RNA expression levels of 1-month-old acne-affected infants could determine whether AD developed at 2 months.”

According to researchers, one potential study limitation was the inclusion of both non-eczematous and eczematous areas in the SSL-RNA profile analysis.

“Here, we applied SSL-RNA analysis technology to infants aged 1 and 2 months and unveiled differences in characteristics between healthy and AD infants at the molecular level,” study authors wrote. “Furthermore, we revealed that SSL-RNA analysis could predict the later onset of AD.”


  1. Copyright © Kao Corporation. All rights reserved. [article] a novel way to diagnose early-onset atopic dermatitis using sebum. Kao. June 8, 2023. Accessed June 14, 2023. https://www.kao.com/global/en/newsroom/news/release/2023/20230608-001/.
  2. Yamamoto‐Hanada K, Saito‐Abe M, Shima K, et al. mRNAs in skin surface lipids unveiled atopic dermatitis at 1 Month. J Eur Acad Dermatol. 2023;37(7):1385-1395. doi:10.1111/jdv.19017
  3. Inoue, T., Kuwano, T., Uehara, Y. et al. Non-invasive human skin transcriptome analysis using mRNA in skin surface lipids. Commun Biol 5, 215 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-022-03154-w
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