Basic research on blood pressure has led researchers from Inserm (Inserm Unit 1138, "Cordeliers Research Centre") in France to obtain unexpected results: drugs used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure) reduce side effects from corticosteroid-based creams used to treat certain skin diseases. This work was published online on February 10, 2015 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology and the article is titled “Topical Mineralocorticoid Receptor Blockade Limits Glucocorticoid-Induced Epidermal Atrophy in Human Skin.” Corticosteroid-based dermatological creams are indicated for the symptomatic treatment of inflammatory skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, for example. However, they have frequent side effects, such as a slight burning sensation, and very often end by inducing skin atrophy (thinning of the skin, which becomes fragile), which is inconvenient for the patient, and for which there is presently no treatment. The researchers from Inserm formulated a hypothesis whereby this harmful effect might be related to the inappropriate activation by these creams of mineralocorticoid receptors located in the epidermis. These receptors, which are present in the kidney, heart, eye, and certain neurons in particular, reacted with aldosterone, a hormone that regulates the blood pressure. Moreover, previous studies also showed them to be highly sensitive to corticosteroids. Application of corticosteroids to cultured skin causes it to become thinner: in six days, the thickness of the epidermis was reduced by one-third. The researchers then induced a pharmacological blockade of the receptors by adding specific antagonists to the corticosteroid treatment.
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