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New Frontiers in Understanding Skin Irritations 

The skin is not just our body’s largest organ; it’s also a complex ecosystem with its own immune system that actively defends against bacteria, viruses, allergens, and other external threats.

Most importantly, many other types of skin cells can join the skin's immune system to protect and heal the organ when necessary. Sensory nerve endings recognize virtually all kinds of stimuli, giving rise to the tactile sensations of heat, cold, pressure, vibration, pain, and itching. 

The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) plays a crucial role in regulating the skin’s immune and inflammatory responses. Endocannabinoid deficiency and dysregulation are believed to contribute to a wide range of human diseases. 

When the ECS is out of balance, it can lead to a variety of skin conditions, including acne, dryness, eczema, and psoriasis, due to its impact on skin cell behavior and immune responses.

Atopic Dermatitis: Insights & Treatments

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that affects the skin’s barrier function and involves a complex interplay of genetic, environmental, and immunological factors. 

Current treatments focus on topical corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors, but ECS-targeted therapies could offer a novel approach to modulate inflammation and immunity, potentially improving the skin’s barrier function and overall health.

Cannabinoids have been proven to regulate the activation of human T cells and change the balance of cytokines, thereby controlling the body's response to inflammation. 

The connection between the ECS and cutaneous immunity is evident and represents a therapeutic approach to skin diseases.

Intervening the ECS during the various phases of atopic dermatitis could be beneficial in controlling inflammatory and immune responses and consequent changes in keratinocytes, with an overall beneficial effect on preserving epidermal barrier functioning.  

Psoriasis:A Complex Condition

Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease whose pathogenesis consists of hyperkeratotic plaques that are generally located on the scalp, elbows, knees, and buttocks. 

The molecular mechanism or mechanisms involved in psoriasis are not fully understood, but the disease involves different immune cells that interact with keratinocytes (cells responsible for producing keratin and cytokines).

In most cases, psoriasis develops in a mild to moderate form and is currently managed using topical treatments, as the first option, and phototherapy, systemic agents, or a combination of different therapeutic categories in advanced cases.  

Cannabinoids, known for their anti-inflammatory properties, are being explored for their potential to modulate immune responses and keratinocyte behavior, offering a promising avenue for psoriasis treatment.

The Vital Role of Aquaporins

Aquaporins are integral membrane proteins that form channels to transport water and certain small molecules like glycerol across cell membranes. 

In the skin, aquaporin-3 (AQP3) is particularly important and is found in the plasma membranes of basal layer keratinocytes. AQP3’s role is crucial in maintaining skin hydration, which is vital for the skin’s barrier function and overall health.

In conditions like dermatitis and eczema, where the skin’s barrier function is compromised, AQP3 expression is often increased in response to skin stress. 

This suggests that AQP3 may play a protective role in these diseases, helping to regulate water content and contribute to the skin’s healing process. 

By modulating the activity of AQP3, particularly by using targeted cannabinoids, it may be possible to influence the course of dermatitis and eczema, potentially leading to new therapeutic strategies.

This understanding of aquaporins, especially AQP3, highlights their significance in skin physiology and their potential as targets for treating skin disorders characterized by disrupted barrier function and hydration issues.