Topical Application of Soybean Tar Improves Skin Barrier Function and Inhibits Allergic Responses in an Atopic Dermatitis Mouse Model

Ying Wu, Xiao-Yun Fan, Xiu-Qiong Fu, Zhi-Ling Yu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstractpeer-review


Background: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common chronic inflammatory disease characterized by intense itch, inflamed skin, and a relapsing course. Skin barrier dysfunction facilitates allergen sensitization and systemic allergic responses in AD patients. Studies have identified CD4+ T helper 2 (Th2) cells and type 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2s) as key drivers of AD. Soybean tar has been used to treat AD for centuries in China, but its mechanisms of action are not fully understood.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate whether soybean tar alleviates atopic dermatitis symptoms by inhibiting Th2 and ILC2s-mediated immune responses.

Methods: Calcipotriol (a vitamin D3 analogue) was applied to mouse ears to triggerexperimental atopic dermatitis in c57 mice. Ear thickness and scratching behavior were measured during the experiment period. Cytokine levels were detected by multiplex cytokine assays. Immune cells in the cervical lymph nodes of control and model mice treated with or without soybean tar were analyzed using flow cytometry.

Results: Topical application of soybean tar significantly improved AD symptoms determined by dermatitis score, ear thickness, and scratching frequency. Histological analyses showed that soybean tar reduced infiltration of eosinophils and mast cells in the lesioned skin. The levels of tight junction markers ZO-1, E-cadherin, Claudin-1 and Occludin were downregulated in the ear epidermis of the model mice; soybean tar dose-dependently and significantly upregulated thelevels of these protein in the epidermis. Soybean tar significantly lowered skin levels of the cytokines IL-4, IL-1β, IL-10 and GM-CSF, and lowered serum IgE level of the model mice. Furthermore, soybean tar reduced CD4+/CD8+ T cell ratio, as well as Th2 cell and ILC2s populations in mouse cervical lymph nodes. These results indicate that topical application of soybean tar ameliorates AD symptoms by lowering Th2 and ILC2s-mediated immune responses and cytokine production.

Conclusions: Soybean tar ameliorates atopic dermatitis by improving skin barrier function and inhibiting allergic inflammation in mice; lowering Th2 and ILC2s-mediated immune responses and cytokine production is involved in the anti-allergic inflammatory effects of soybean tar. Findings of this study provide pharmacological justifications for the use of soybean tar to treat


ConferenceThe 9th Annual Meeting of The Specialty Committee on Immunology of Traditional Chinese Medicine of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies cum The 6th International Forum on Triplet Therapy for Rheumatism and Pain = 世界中医药学会联合会中医药免疫专业委员会第九届学术年会暨第六届国际风湿与疼痛三联序贯疗法高峰论坛, 2023

User-Defined Keywords

  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Soybean tar
  • TNF
  • Type 2 innate lymphoid cells


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