NRS Blog: cathelicidins show allergic basis for rosacea ?

The NRS Blog has a new article about their ongoing research into the possible role of cathlecidins in rosacea.

This new article is written in a nice easy conversational style, covering their supported research through Dr. Richard Gallo.

From the NRS Blog: Is Rosacea Like an Allergy?

Dr. Gallo explained that when the normal immune system is faced with any of a broad range of potential dangers — such as sun exposure, emotional stress, heat and spicy foods, among many others — receptors recognize potential danger and protect the body by prompting the production of protective substances that isolate and neutralize any harmful effects. With rosacea, however, these protective substances, like overzealous guards, turn the body on itself, leading to inflammation.

Using advanced mass spectrometry technology to analyze the biochemical composition of proteins in rosacea patients, the researchers discovered an abnormality in the production of protective molecules known as cathelicidins.

I wrote an item a year ago `Focus on cathelicidin and its role in rosacea‘ that also links to some other articles on cathelicidins. I am still not able to actually find the 2004 paper that was slated as published – “Yamasaki K, Barden A, Taylor K, Wong C, Ohtake T, Murakami M, Gallo RL. Expression and potential pathological role of cathelicidin expression in rosacea. The Journal of Investigative Dermatology 2004;122:A51.”

One related paper, also listing Dr. Gallo, looks interesting ;

Cathelicidins and innate defense against invasive bacterial infection. Nizet V, Gallo RL. Scand J Infect Dis. 2003;35(9):670-6.

Cathelicidins are small cationic peptides that possess broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. These gene-encoded ‘natural antibiotics’ are produced by several mammalian species on epithelial surfaces and within the granules of phagocytic cells. Since their discovery over a decade ago, cathelicidins have been speculated to function within the innate immune system, contributing to a first line of host defense against an array of microorganisms. Consequently, cathelicidins have captured the interest of basic investigators in the diverse fields of cell biology, immunology, protein chemistry and microbiology. A burgeoning body of experimental research now appears to confirm and extend the biological significance of these fascinating molecules. This article reviews the latest advances in the knowledge of cathelicidin antimicrobial peptides, with particular emphasis on their role in defense against invasive bacterial infection and associations with human disease conditions.

From Dr. Richard Gallo’s Bio:

Richard L. Gallo, M.D., Ph.D., Professor and Chief of the Division of Dermatology, is a leading investigator in the field of skin research. His research focuses on the role of the innate immune system in skin health and disease, focusing on antimicrobial peptides and aspects of the interaction of the skin with the immune system. He has contributed several landmark observations to the field of Dermatology including the first description of an antimicrobial peptide in mammalian skin, the first demonstration that mammals depend on antimicrobial peptides for defense against infection, and the first association of a human disease (atopic eczema) with a defect in antimicrobial peptide production.

From the UCSD Gallo Laboratory.

Gene targeting and molecular analysis by our laboratory has shown cathelicidins are critical to mammalian immunity and are associated with human disease. For example, patients with atopic dermatitis suppress expression of cathelicidins and defensins and thus are more susceptible to skin infections.

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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15 Reader Comments

  1. E Lacy says:

    I am all for finding the root cause of Rosacea as I have had it since my early 20s’, so go research!

    But!!! When I saw my first article about the demodex mites, it rang a very big bell… and I began my own self help treatment with anything that had pryethrum in it, even dog shampoo! Rid for “lice”, ect. I began with leaving the solution on my entire body over night! even! Within 2 days, a “crust” (not visible) had surfaced upon my face and was easily removed and since then, my facial skin is smooth and the pores quite smaller!!! It was like there had been a little neighborhood of demodex mites living, breeding, having picnics and defecating and reacting to my own sweat with wild attempts to save themselves. After working in the yard, my skin felt like it was on fire! Now, that “they” are gone, I still get the flushing from overheating, but that caustic effect is gone.

    I am so over the tired ole Metro-gel, several dermatologists always toss at me. Like having Rosacae was such a boring skin disease for them….
    Never even used a magnigying glass, or did a skin scraping, just ho hum, here you go, bye now…… And that is what I get for my $? Very sad.

    I will continue to do mite treatments, the idea of them living in skin, multiplying is just gross. And the skin of my entire body is smoother, not so dry, just better.

  2. Janice Davis-Roane says:

    I’m over weight and really need to exerice, however, everytime I get on the treadmill my face break out, swells and bruns very badly. My skin is also very sensitive. The medicine that my derm has me on is not working. Please help! Thank you.

  3. Paul White says:

    Hi Janice

    I feel for you. I exercise 5 days a week or more, but I have to exericise; it’s one of the few joys in my life that I can control. My skin is so thickened that it’s hard for the sweat to break through. When it does; I use a clean towel to pat. The sweat burns my skin terribly as well; it’s very painful. I always finish my workout with the most strenuous (cardio) where I will sweat the most. I then have to shower quickly right when finished to get the sweat off or else it would be hell. Good luck.

  4. Karin says:

    It’s been 2 years since my face was attacked by a bunch of skin diseases like psoriasis, rosacea, contact dermatitis and
    seburreah……all as a consequence of having a black salve scab cut off prematurely. Most of the skin conditions have cleared up now except the rosecea. If I get upset, nervous, excited , frustrated or angry my face get’s flushed.

    They’ve all now moved into my scalp and I’m losing a lot of hair too.

    If anybody is familiar with the effects of black salve and can think of something that could help me, I’d be very grateful!
    Thanks, Karin

  5. Rosacea were found by researchers to be one of mites. I had several reported cures with some applications of borax, peroxide, neem, pyrethrins, applied to and taken internally. Certain toxins might be neutralized (SCTE’s) by sodium lauryl ether sulfate, small concentration. The feces produced by these insects were what caused it. In one case they came out in millions of tiny dots which showed under my microscopes as an insect and seem to look in someways and responsiveness to treament similar to a dog mange. The mainstream media hasn’t catch up to what people have found uout yet. Although the borax and peroxide were the best remedies I found so far.

  6. Hi Ted, the link between demodex mites and rosacea is still only theoretical – so far no link has been found. Does one cause the other or do the mites and rosacea symptoms just co-exist. So far no-one has been able to say, despite years and years of research.

    In the meantime, I would advise caution when using harsh topicals that contain pyrethrins etc. as they can cause bad reactions to sensitive rosacea skin.

  7. Pavla says:

    Hi All,
    I have 3 years-old-baby having rosacea which continuously looks from bad to worse. 1% metronidazol does not help at all. Our doctor does not want to change the way of treatment and I have no idea whether exists some other possibility to stop worsening at least. Some other topical cream for baby ? Does somebody have advice ?
    Thank you in advance.

  8. Cherri says:

    I had tried everything. My life was and still to some degree is miserable due to rosacea. Blessed with a flawless complexion for all but the past five years of my life, this condition has been particularly hard for me to just accept. The dermatologists are CLUELESS, at least the ones I went to. Metro-Gel (which is actually designed to treat vaginal ailments), antibiotics, what a load of horse manure.

    So, after trying a variety of home/herbal/natural treatments I found Ted’s website dealing with Borax.

    After one week of borax/peroxide treatments (twice daily, and I leave it on my face for approx. five minutes) my face is noticeably clearer. Not perfect by a long shot, but when I flush it looks more like a healthy pink than red. Of course, I still have the broken capillaries, and my skin is drier and I seem to be getting a few minor eruptions, BUT, seriously, it IS working. At least, so far. I’ve suffered so much that I don’t dare completely believe it’s working, but I am cautiously optimistic.

    One other point that might be useful — about four days after I began the borax/peroxide treatment, I visited a health food shop that specializes in gluten free products. You see, I eliminated 95 percent of sugar from my diet about two months ago. Next step is gluten (believe it or not much hard to eliminate than sugar). My theory is that the inflammation involved with rosacea is at least somewhat related to yeast. Sugar is what feeds yeast and makes it grow. As I cut out sugar and started with the borax solution, my face started to clear a little bit. By eliminating the yeast and gluten, I may see more improvement.
    However, while I was at the shop, I honed in on another herbal rosacea treatment. I bought it because, hey, people with this condition are desperate and will try anything. Bear in mind that my face had cleared up about 50 percent at this point. I went home and applied a small amount of the oil, which contained sweet almond and other nutty,fruity ingredients.

    Within minutes my face was flaming red. Ted’s website suggests that the mites feed off of such lotions, creams, oils, so they multiply like crazy. And I had been using a regular regime of Burt’s Bee’s products because they were all natural! But they are also loaded with fruit and nut extracts.

    *If* indeed there were/are colonies of mites living on my poor, beleaguered face — I had treating them to a nightly banquet! I had noticed each evening, with sadness, that my face would get worse after I put on the night cream (which smells good enough to eat).

    The larger point, though, is that the Borax was cleaning it all up, and the moment I “fed” my face with the “natural, tutti-fruiti” oil — the red face was back.

    I am not a scientist but have a fairly good set of critical thinking skills. It seems to me that a persuasive argument may be made in favor of the mite theory.

    I’m back to borax and peroxide. So far I have only applied it topically, but tomorrow will begin ingesting it as well, in a much smaller dose and minus the peroxide. I believe the website stated 1/8th teaspoon in 1 liter of distilled water.

    Good luck everyone. I know everybody is different, but hey, if you’re like me, go ahead and try it. I have very fair, delicate skin and am in my 40s and the borax did not melt my face off. Quite the contrary!

  9. Linda says:

    Has anyone used kombucha tea and found to have a bad flair up of rosacea? I am wondering if the antimicrobial activity in the tea is triggering a flair-up.
    Please e-mail me directly if you’ve experienced this.

  10. me says:


    the tuti fruti mix you put on ur face could also be food for the yeast, as well as the mites. they eat the same thing I guess so its hard to tell which one is the culprit.

  11. maureen says:


    I feel the same way you do about the Yeast problem. I to got rid of most of the sugar and also did a wheat free gluten free diet. It is not easy but it sincerely helps.
    Years before I did this, I was always terrible congrested, Used nasal sprays sudafed seldane from a Dr. these were the only things that helped me breath. After also reading the Blood Type Book Eat Right For Your Type meaning your BLOOD TYPE, which I am an O-negative. This book said that O’s don’t tolerate wheat and dairy products. I could hardly believe what I was reading, but decided to try it. With in two days I started breathing better without all the nasal sprays etc. It also helped with the redness and swelling. I have not seen a Derma Dr. for over 15 years, But now half to because of Dr. Linda Sy’s products that I used are not available.
    After reading your comment about Borax and Peroxide might give that a try

    I don’t know if this would help but after your borax treatments and the skin gets really dry try just a little of Calendula Oinment it is really greasy but it helps to heal the skin and calm it down

    Im checking out Ted’s website

  12. wobs says:

    Hi guys
    There is no escaping Dr Gallo`s findings in that rosacea sufferers have abnormally high levels of cathelicidin in their facial skin and that the proteolytically processed forms of cathelicidin peptides found in rosacea are different from those present in normal individuals.
    There is much talk about dermodex mites and rosacea. The fact that rosacea sufferers appear to have different cathelicidin peptides might result in an increase in these mites because the skins defence mechanism is not working properly, but I do not think is the cause of rosacea. Using treatments such as Borax might help not because you are getting rid of the mites but because these chemicals suppress
    SCTE activity in the skin. High amounts of SCTE cause the rosacea symptoms. This link is a research article regarding the effect of soaps and chemicals on SCTE activity in the skin.
    I suppose what we really need to find out is what causes the increase of cathelicidin and SCTE.
    Good luck

  13. maureen rosky says:

    Could someone please tell me how much borax and how much peroxide you mix together to use on the face? Thank You

  14. Devon says:

    Hi I actually simply dissolve as much Borax as supermarket 3% H202 will accept. Then, I simply filter it through an unbleached coffee filter; this catches any undissolved borax! However, the original recipe calls for 1%; that’s easy, just add two thirds 2/3 water to the H202. I not only leave on overnight, but don’t wash it off until my next shower. I rub it all over my scalp and neck. I’m on my second day and my skin looks a heck of a lot better again, already… Now, if I could only come up with a way– aside from laser– to heal the broken capillaries…

  15. Lee says:

    Hi All – My recent experience (today 1-14-15) fighting what has been chronic ocular roseachea for the last 2 -1/2 years- The One thing out of many treatments I have tried – 3 weeks ago I completely discontinued any intake of Vitamin D – that , in combination with 3-times daily solute of Borax and 1/2% of Hydrogen Peroxide eye cleaning and face compresses has resulted in it being 95% GONE… No eye itching, skin finally not red, and healed to like it was before this started.

    I researched all the research about Cathelicidins, and that EXTRA vitamin D-3 Helped those with skin conditions that resulted from relatively inactive cathelicidins, e.g. see Dr. Gallo, my logic was the opposite may help if the cathelicidins are TOO active, this has worked for me – at least these last 3 weeks….

    see…link – and especially the last sentence of excerpt below…

    “Understanding the role of antimicrobial peptides in mammalian immunity is complicated by many observations that these peptides also act on the host to stimulate a variety of important responses related to defense against injury. Cathelicidins were first found in mammalian skin due to their ability to increase fibroblast proteoglycan synthesis (34). Defensins and cathelicidins have both been shown to have chemotactic activity, possibly functioning through specific receptors, such as CCR6 or formyl peptide receptor-like-1, respectively (21, 35). Consistent with these prior observations, LL-37 was found in the present study to be a potent stimulus for IL-8 release from cultured keratinocytes. This effect was diminished upon processing to RK-31 or KS-30 and was almost completely eliminated in the shortest KR-20 cathelicidin. It is not clear whether topical LL-37 secreted into sweat would have a similar effect in vivo on epidermal keratinocytes when separated by the formidable barrier of the stratum corneum. However, the inhibition of proinflammatory functions by LL-37 in normal epithelia would be a beneficial mechanism to regulate unintended inflammation.”


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