Background: Depression is a common comorbid condition with atopic dermatitis (AD), particularly during the active disease cycle. Controversial results regarding the contribution of biological sex, immunoglobulin E (IgE) sensitization, and cortisol on AD severity and comorbid depression justify further investigation. Objective and Methods: To explore the influence of sex and IgE sensitization on biochemical and psychological parameters, and severity of AD, a case-control study of 105 volunteers (56 AD, 49 healthy controls (HC); 50 males, 55 females) was conducted over 10 weeks, starting at dermatological symptom onset. Disease severity, serum IgE, cortisol and testosterone levels, and depression scores were assessed at study baseline and after 10 weeks of conventional treatment. Results: Dermatological severity differed among AD males by IgE sensitization and was elevated in males with extrinsic atopic dermatitis (EAD). Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD) scores were elevated in all patients at study baseline and improved with symptom reduction to HC levels, except female EAD. Severity of depression and dermatitis were correlated in EAD males at baseline and at week 10. Serum cortisol was elevated in male EAD at baseline, in contrast to males with intrinsic atopic dermatitis (IAD) at week 10. In addition, cortisol levels were found negatively correlated with SCORAD and HAMD scores in EAD males at week 10. Conclusion: Pathophysiological features of AD and depression are likely related to different inflammation-based effects and appear to be biological sex-dependent. Cortisol levels depend on biological sex and IgE sensitization in AD and increase in males with EAD at exacerbation and IAD males at resolution. Biological sex-related disease triggers, IgE sensitization, and cortisol levels are important for the understanding of the mechanisms underlying AD and comorbid depression.

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