RNA-sequencing of paired tape-strips and skin biopsies in atopic dermatitis reveals key differences

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Background: Skin tape-strips and biopsies are widely used methods for investigating the skin in atopic dermatitis (AD). Biopsies are more commonly used but can cause scarring and pain, whereas tape-strips are noninvasive but sample less tissue. The study evaluated the performance of skin tape-strips and biopsies for studying AD. Methods: Whole-transcriptome RNA-sequencing was performed on paired tape-strips and biopsies collected from lesional and non-lesional skin from AD patients (n = 7) and non-AD controls (n = 5). RNA yield, mapping efficiency, and differentially expressed genes (DEGs) for the two methods (tape-strip/biopsy) and presence of AD (AD/non-AD) were compared. Results: Tape-strips demonstrated a lower RNA yield (22 vs. 4596 ng) and mapping efficiency to known genes (28% vs. 93%) than biopsies. Gene-expression profiles of paired tape-strips and biopsies demonstrated a medium correlation (R2 = 0.431). Tape-strips and biopsies demonstrated systematic differences in measured expression levels of 6483 genes across both AD and non-AD samples. Tape-strips preferentially detected many itch (CCL3/CCL4/OSM) and immune-response (CXCL8/IL4/IL5/IL22) genes as well as markers of epidermal dendritic cells (CD1a/CD207), while certain cytokines (IL18/IL37), skin-barrier genes (KRT2/FLG2), and dermal fibroblasts markers (COL1A/COL3A) were preferentially detected by biopsies. Tape-strips identified more DEGs between AD and non-AD (3157 DEGs) then biopsies (44 DEGs). Tape-strips also detected higher levels of bacterial mRNA than biopsies. Conclusions: This study concludes that tape-strips and biopsies each demonstrate respective advantages for measuring gene-expression changes in AD. Thus, the specific skin layers and genes of interest should be considered before selecting either method.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAllergy: European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Pages (from-to)1548-1559
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Allergy published by European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

    Research areas

  • atopic dermatitis, biopsies, inflammation, RNA sequencing, tape-strips

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