Genetically Weakened Skin Barrier Allows for Easier Absorption of Toxic Chemicals

January 21, 2021 | A Swedish study in Environmental Health Perspectives demonstrates that individuals with genetically weakened skin barrier protection experience higher rates of toxic chemicals (e.g., pesticides) absorption through the skin. Studies provide evidence that filaggrin genetic mutations can exacerbate the impacts of chemicals on dermal (skin) exposure, causing various skin diseases like dermatitis and other chemical-related effects, including asthma and cancer. Filaggrin (FLG) is a protein that is critical to skin cell structure or epidermal homeostasis. Just as excessive exposure to UV light can cause skin discoloration and cancer, excessive dermal contact with these toxic chemicals can cause a range of adverse reactions. Dermal exposure is the most common pesticide exposure route, compromising 95 percent of all pesticide exposure incidents. Furthermore, many pesticides contain chemicals that act as sensitizers. The study’s results demonstrate individuals with FLG null mutations (relatively common, especially among people of European descent) and low CNV (copy number variants) are more susceptible to increased dermal uptake and absorption of chemicals. Researchers find that pesticide levels are two times higher in individuals with FLG null mutations. [Littorin, Margareta et al. Filaggrin Polymorphisms and the Uptake of Chemicals through the Skin—A Human Experimental Study. Environmental Health Perspectives. 129(1), 2021.]