Epithelial Barrier Theory


Cezmi Akdis is the director of the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research (SIAF) in Davos and Professor in Zurich University Medical Faculty.

He has honorary professorships from Beijign (China), Wuhan (China) and Bursa Uludag Universities (Turkey), Harvard University (USA). He is a Senate Member of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences.

Cezmi Akdis has published 720 peer-reviewed articles. His h-index is 156 and he was selected as a highly cited author consecutively in 2016-2017-2018-2019-2020 and 2021 by Clarivate (Thomson Reuters).

Cezmi Akdis acted as the President of the European Academy of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (15’000 members) between 2011-2013. He was the editor of Global Atlases of Allergy, Asthma I-II, Chronic Rhinosinusitis and Allergic Rhinitis.

He was the founder and organizer of the World Immune Regulation Meetings, Davos I-XVI (600-1000 participants). He has contributed the Allergy Chapters in the textbooks that are studied in Medical Schools, Such as Nelson Text book of Pediatrics, Middleton Essentials of Allergy. He is one of the Editors of the text book Pediatric Allergy Immunology. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the Allergy journal, number one journal of the Allergy Clinical Immunology specialty, impact factor 14.71.

Cezmi Akdis’s major scientific contributions are on immune regulation and allergen tolerance, plasticity of antigen-specific T cells 1995, human T regulatory cells 1996, immune suppressive role of histamine receptor 2 2000, human Type 2 NK cell subset 2001, human regulatory NK cells 2007, regulatory innate B cell subset 2017, regulatory innate lymphoid cells 2019. His current research is the continuation of his epithelial barrier theory studies starting from mechanisms of eczema 2000, mechanisms of epithelial shedding in asthma and chronic rhinosinusitis 2003, endotypes of asthma, chronic rhinosinusitis and atopic dermatitis 2011, epithelial barrier theory for the development of allergic and autoimmune diseases 2006 – 2022. Cezmi Akdis is also the author of more than 40 publications on COVID including one of the first ones published on 19 February 2020, including pathophysiology, risk factors, severity, clinical characteristics and how to handle allergy and asthma patients during the pandemic.

Epithelial Barrier Theory

  • Several shortcomings of the hygiene, old friends and biodiversity hypotheses have been discussed during the last decades, however these hypotheses do not fully explain the rise in allergic disease.
  • The Epithelial Barrier Theory and studies of Akdis demonstrate a long list of environmental substances that impair epithelial barriers and proposes a strong explanation for the pandemic increase in allergic, autoimmune and neuropsychiatric diseases. The prevalence of these diseases increased by 100 times.
  • Molecular mechanisms of epithelial barrier damage of environmental substances, such as the involvement of oxydative stress, innate immune response, cell death mechanisms, protein folding defects have been demonstrated.
  • Link of epithelial barrier defects to microbial dysbiosis and immune system dysregulation have been demonstrated.
  • Several circulating biomarkers that identify leaky epithelial barriers have been demonstrated.
  • An innovative skin barrier detection method by electric impedance spectroscopy has been patented, developed and a device (Navisense; SciBase) is currently available.
  • A strong media outreach and public awareness work has been performed. 
  • Possible strategies have been proposed for the avoidance and dose control environmental substances; development of safer, less-toxic products; development of novel therapeutic approaches for tightening the tissue-specific barrier molecules; strengthening other components of the mucosal barrier; blocking bacterial translocation; avoiding the colonization of opportunistic pathogens; interventions through diet and microbiome, and many more novel approaches.
  • Discussions with the NIH, FDA, Swiss EMPA and EU EFSA are ongoing. 
  • EAACI Environment Guidelines and Epithelial Biology Group has been established co-chaired by C. Akdis.

The results underscore the pressing need to establish a new safety standard for household cleaning products


Dear esteemed colleagues,

It is with great pleasure that we extend a warm invitation to you for the EAACI Summer Symposium on Epithelial Cell Biology 2023, taking place in the memorable city of London, United Kingdom, on 21 – 22 September 2023.

In our daily lives, we are constantly exposed to a multitude of toxins and chemicals. According to the epithelial barrier hypothesis, many of these substances can cause damage to the delicate layer of cells that form the epithelium, which covers our skin, lungs, and intestine. The consequences of compromised epithelial barriers are far-reaching, contributing to the alarming rise of almost two billion cases of allergic, autoimmune, neurodegenerative, and psychiatric diseases. The scientific community recognizes this as one of the three major threats to humanity, alongside global warming and climate change, as well as virus infection pandemics like COVID and Ebola.

Local damage to the skin and mucosal barriers can lead to allergic conditions, inflammatory bowel disorders, and celiac disease. It is essential to pursue research in the field of epithelial barriers, where experimental models must be developed and validated to better understand the transportation of environmental antigens. This knowledge will guide us in preventing these conditions, intervening early, and creating innovative therapies. During the symposium, you can expect two days filled with stimulating discussions and the opportunity to interact with distinguished scientists in the field. We have carefully curated an exceptional lineup of speakers who will share their expertise, fostering an environment of collaboration and knowledge exchange. With the collective efforts of our cherished attendees, we are confident that this event will once again be a resounding success, offering a remarkable platform for scientific engagement.

We are looking forward to meeting you in the captivating city of London, where we will come together to advance our understanding of epithelial cell biology and its implications for human health.

Warm regards,

The Organizing Committee

Download the scientific programme