Study finds new evidence linking psoriasis to heart disease

An increasing number of studies have linked psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease, to the development of heart disease. Now, a new study provides further evidence for this link by demonstrating how certain blood cells might interact in a way that damages blood vessels in people with this psoriasis.

Researchers included 81 psoriasis patients and 36 healthy control subjects without psoriasis. The study aimed at characterizing neutrophils, a type of blood cell known to fight infection. The researchers focused on a subset of neutrophils known as low-density granulocytes. In lab studies, they showed that these neutrophils interacted with platelets, a type of blood cell that promotes clot formation, in a way that increases plaque formation in the blood vessels.  Over time, this plaque buildup could lead to fatal heart attacks.

“This study is important because we have linked a subset of neutrophils to heart disease in psoriasis,” said Heather Teague, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the NHLBI’s Laboratory of Inflammation and Cardiometabolic Diseases. “We see they behave differently than normal neutrophils and we are excited to understand the implications of this finding in the future.  A better understanding of this neutrophil-platelet interaction might provide a potential therapeutic target for reducing plaque buildup in psoriasis,” she added. 

The study, partly funded by NHLBI, appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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