Possible Genetic Mechanism Links Psoriasis with Obesity, Danish Twin Study Indicates

Possible Genetic Mechanism Links Psoriasis with Obesity, Danish Twin Study Indicates

A possible common genetic mechanism linking psoriasis and metabolic syndromes, including obesity, is the key finding of a recent report performed with Danish twins by a team of researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. The study, “Association of Psoriasis With the Risk for Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and Obesity,” was published in the online version of the journal JAMA Dermatology.

Psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease characterized by itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales has been associated with metabolic syndromes, including and most predominantly with obesity and diabetes. Both genetic and environmental factors underlie the association between both diseases.

In the new study, Ann Sophie Lønnberg, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark performed a study with Danish twins, ages 20 to 71 years old, to further explore the genetic mechanisms underlying association of psoriasis with metabolic syndromes.

In total, the study included complete data for 33,588 twins (more than half of them women) with the following features: 4.2 percent of the samples population had psoriasis (630 men and 771 women); and diabetes was present in 1.4 percent of the population (235 women and 224 men). The average body mass index (BMI) was 24.5, with obese individuals (defined as those with a BMI from 30 to 34) accounting for 6.3 percent of the total population.

Researchers detected that the diabetic population exhibited higher prevalence of psoriasis (7.6 percent) when compared to non-diabetic group (4.1 percent). Moreover, individuals with psoriasis also showed higher BMI than among those without psoriasis (25 compared to 24.4), and had an increased risk for obesity (BMI over 30).

“Psoriasis, type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity are strongly associated in adults after taking key confounding factors such as sex, age and smoking into account. Results indicate a common genetic etiology of psoriasis and obesity. Conducting future studies on specific genes and epigenetic factors that cause this association is relevant,” the researchers concluded.

“The unique twin design of the study by Lønnberg and colleagues, in which increasing BMI was associated with a diagnosis of psoriasis, allowed the investigators to identify a genetic correlation between psoriasis and BMI,” said Joel M. Gelfand, M.D., M.S.C.E., of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, in a press release.

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Patricia holds her Ph.D. in Cell Biology from University Nova de Lisboa, and has served as an author on several research projects and fellowships, as well as major grant applications for European Agencies. She also served as a PhD student research assistant in the Laboratory of Doctor David A. Fidock, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Columbia University, New York.

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