Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic and pruritic skin inflammatory disease causing a significant burden to health care management and patient’s quality of life. Seemingly healthy skin or non-lesional sites on AD patients still presents skin barrier defects and immune response, which can develop to AD at a later stage. To investigate further the balance between the epidermal barrier impairment and intrinsic immune dysregulation in AD, we exploited multispectral Raster-Scanning Optoacoustic Mesoscopy (ms-RSOM) to image lesional and non-lesional skin areas on AD patients of different severities non-invasively to elucidate their structural features and functional information. Herein, we demonstrate the objective assessment of AD severity using relative changes in oxygen saturation (δsO2) levels in microvasculature along with other structural parameters such as relative changes in epidermis thickness (δET) and total blood volume (δTBV) between the lesional and non-lesional areas of the skin. We could observe an increasing trend for δsO2 and δTBV, which correlated well with the subjective clinical Scoring Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) for evaluating the severity. Notably, δET showed a decreasing trend with AD severity, indicating that the difference in epidermal thickness between lesional and non-lesional area of the skin decreases with AD severity. Our results also correlated well with conventional metrics such as trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) and erythrosine sedimentation rate (ESR). We quantified the δsO2 and δET changes to objectively evaluate the treatment response before and four months after treatment using topical steroids and cyclosporine in one severe AD patient. We observed reduced δsO2 and δET post treatment. We envision that in future, functional and structural imaging metrics derived from ms-RSOM can be translated as objective markers to assess and stratify the severity of AD and understand the function of skin barrier dysfunctions and immune dysregulation. It could also be employed to monitor the treatment response of AD in regular clinical settings.

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