Psoriasis Linked to High Cholesterol Levels, Study Finds

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Psoriasis patients often also maintain high cholesterol levels because of a class of immune cells that link hyperlipidemia with the development of psoriasis symptoms.

In a new study, Chyung-Ru Wang, PhD, a professor of Microbiology-Immunology, and her team utilized a strain of mice with specific immune cells, called self-lipid—reactive T-cells, and high levels of cholesterol, hyperlipidemia, in their blood.

The researchers noticed the mice with hyperlipidemia began developing skin diseases mirroring the usual development of psoriasis in humans.


“To our surprise, these mice spontaneously developed skin lesions, which were caused by the activation of self-lipid reactive T-cells only under conditions of hyperlipidemia,” said in a statement. “The skin disease closely matched the symptoms and progression of psoriasis in humans.”

Scientists in the past have acknowledged a potential association between psoriasis and high cholesterol, but Wang’s study explores a new link that has not previously been explained or explored.

In another experiment by Wang and her team, blood samples of human psoriasis patients were investigated. The researchers found increased levels of the same self-lipid—reactive T-cells in the patients with psoriasis compared to those without.

“As a large proportion of psoriatic patients are dyslipidemic, this finding is of clinical significance and indicates that self-lipid—reactive T-cells might serve as a possible link between hyperlipidemia and psoriasis,” the authors wrote in the study.

The study demonstrates why hyperlipidemia may be associated to certain autoimmune diseases, including psoriasis. This link will continue to be explored through the targeting of antigens that provoke T-cells that will assist in providing the necessary research to develop new treatments for psoriasis and other diseases involved with high cholesterol.

“Overall, this study not only sheds light on the role of group 1 CD1—autoreactive T cells in a chronic inflammatory disease, but also identifies a potential cause of the inflammatory process that could serve as a link among psoriasis, hyperlipidemia, and cardiovascular diseases,” the researchers concluded.