Tape Strips in Dermatology Research

A. J. Hughes; S. S. Tawfik; K. P. Baruah; E. A. O'Toole; R. F. L. O'Shaughnessy


The British Journal of Dermatology. 2021;185(1):26-35. 

In This Article

What Information can be Obtained From Tape Strips?

Many epidermal components can be extracted from TS (summarized in Table 2). Soluble proteins, such as ILs, are detectable in the TS from inflammatory dermatoses.[34–36] Hulshof et al. detected 13 of 28 immunomodulatory mediators tested from six TS using an electrochemiluminescence immunoassay.[36] One mediator, CXCL8, significantly correlated with Scoring Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) severity score in both lesional and nonlesional AE.[36] Tape stripping facilitates serial sampling of biomarkers.[3] Méhul et al. used TS before and after treatment to determine chemokines and cytokines, such as IL-12p40, that are upregulated in lesional psoriatic skin and normalize after topical calcipotriol-betamethasone treatment.[37]

Structural proteins of the SC are highly cross-linked and hence difficult to solubilize.[18,35] Egawa et al. could not detect filaggrin (FLG) from a single TS using Western blotting, but were able to do so following 12 h of pretreatment with salicylic acid before taking the TS.[38] Unfortunately, this resulted in erythema and pigmentation for a number of weeks.[38] Son et al. detected profilaggrin from five TS using Western blotting following solubilization in 2% SDS in Tris–HCl.[39] Multiple SC barrier proteins, including FLG, can be detected from TS using mass spectrometry (MS).[40] Many studies have also chosen to quantify FLG by measuring its breakdown products.[36,41–44] FLG is broken down by proteases in the upper SC to natural moisturizing factors (NMFs).[45] FLG breakdown products can be separated by chromatography and quantified by MS[43] or ultraviolet spectroscopy.[36,41] McAleer et al. showed that NMFs are reduced in AE using TS, and this correlated with transepidermal water loss (TEWL), a measure of barrier function.[44]

MS and RNA-seq enable vast sets of proteins and genes to be obtained from a single set of TS.[2,5,25,43,46–48] Pavel et al. identified 1829 differentially expressed genes in paediatric lesional AE relative to controls, including downregulated terminal differentiation genes, not previously identified in studies using paediatric biopsies.[2] Functional analysis of datasets allows a deeper understanding of the immunopathomechanisms of disease.[9,43,48] Goleva et al. identified that three groups of proteins: keratin-intermediate filaments, inflammatory response proteins and glycolysis/antioxidant defense enzymes, were differentially expressed in AE with food allergy relative to AE without food allergy and that their expression correlated with TEWL, suggesting that AE associated with food allergy has a separate immunopathomechanism to other forms of AE.[48]

Multiple techniques can be used on a single set of TS, allowing 'multiomic' analysis from individual patients.[47] For example, one study used TS numbers 5–6 to measure proteins and lipids, and TS numbers 11–20 to measure RNA from each patient.[47]