Feeding filaggrin: Effects of l-histidine supplementation in atopic dermatitis

Siao Pei Tan, Simon B. Brown, Christopher E.M. Griffiths, Richard B. Weller, Neil K. Gibbs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as eczema, is one of the most common chronic skin conditions worldwide, affecting up to 16% of children and 10% of adults. It is incurable and has significant psychosocial and economic impacts on the affected individuals. AD etiology has been linked to deficiencies in the skin barrier protein, filaggrin. In mammalian skin, l-histidine is rapidly incorporated into filaggrin. Subsequent filaggrin proteolysis releases l-histidine as an important natural moisturizing factor (NMF). In vitro studies were conducted to investigate the influence of l-histidine on filaggrin processing and barrier function in human skin-equivalent models. Our further aim was to examine the effects of daily oral l-histidine supplementation on disease severity in adult AD patients. We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover, nutritional supplementation pilot study to explore the effects of oral l-histidine in adult AD patients (n=24). In vitro studies demonstrated that l-histidine significantly increased both filaggrin formation and skin barrier function (P<0.01, respectively). Data from the clinical study indicated that once daily oral l-histidine significantly reduced (P<0.003) AD disease severity by 34% (physician assessment using the SCORingAD tool) and 39% (patient self-assessment using the Patient Oriented Eczema Measure tool) after 4 weeks of treatment. No improvement was noted with the placebo (P≥0.32). The clinical effect of oral l-histidine in AD was similar to that of mid-potency topical corticosteroids and combined with its safety profile suggests that it may be a safe, nonsteroidal approach suitable for long-term use in skin conditions that are associated with filaggrin deficits such as AD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-411
Number of pages9
JournalClinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2017


  • Amino acid
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Filaggrin
  • L-histidine
  • Nutritional supplement
  • Skin barrier

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


Dive into the research topics of 'Feeding filaggrin: Effects of l-histidine supplementation in atopic dermatitis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this