Background Psoriasis is an inflammatory, noncontagious, genetically determined skin disorder that most commonly appears as inflamed, edematous skin lesions covered with a silvery white scale. Up to 2% of the population develop Ps during their lifetime. Stress, trauma and infections may induce Ps in susceptible individuals.
Risk Factors Ps can be present at any time from the first few weeks of life until 80 or more years of age Most patients experience onset in the third decade of life There is a definite familial tendency to inherit Ps: when one parent is affected, there is a one in four chance of Ps in each child; with two affected parents, the rate is one in two Some genetic linkage between Ps and the HLA- Cw6 phenotype
Pathophysiology The pathological process is a combination of epidermal hyperproliferation and activation of inflammatory pathways with accumulation of inflammatory cells The hyperplasia of the epidermis results from both a shortened epidermal cell cycle (from an average normal turnover of 23 days to 3-5 days) and an increase in the proliferative cell population Autoimmune function –Significant evidence is accumulating that psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. –Lesions of psoriasis are associated with increased activity of T cells in underlying skin. –Guttate psoriasis has been recognized to appear following certain immunologically active events, such as streptococcal pharyngitis, cessation of steroid therapy, and use of antimalaria drugs. Superantigens and T cells –Psoriasis is related to excess T-cell activity. Experimental models can be induced by stimulation with streptococcal superantigen, which cross- reacts with dermal collagen. This small peptide has been shown to cause increased activity among T cells in patients with psoriasis but not in control groups. –Also of significance is that 2.5% of those with HIV develop psoriasis during the course of the disease
Pathophysiology - Details An infiltrate comprising activated T cells is localized in the dermal papillae of skin and the sublining layer of the joint synovium. Other key cells include various forms of dendritic cells and macrophages; B cells are present but their role is as yet not well defined. These cells generate a number of proinflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1, and IL-6, which in turn contribute to activation of additional pathogenic cells. In the skin, through the influence of proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha, keratinocytes proliferate and have prolonged survival, leading to skin thickening and plaque. Proinflammatory cytokines such as TNF-alpha are instrumental in activating endothelial cells to express adhesion molecules such as intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), vascular adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), and E-selectin (upregulated more in the skin), which promote lymphocyte migration to sites of inflammation. Cutaneous lymphocyte- associated antigen (CLA) is expressed on lymphocytes homing to skin lesions, but not to areas of synovitis. Vascular pathology is similar in both the skin and synovium, characterized by prominent angiogenesis with abnormal tortuous vessels. Upregulation of angiogenic growth factors, partly via the action of TNF-alpha, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), and angiopoietins contribute to this phenomenon. Neovascularization is an important component of the inflammatory, erosive nature of the disease. TNF-alpha also contributes to the increased production of proteases such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which are involved in cartilage destruction. Abnormal bone remodeling is a key feature of Ps arthritis. Joint-space narrowing and joint erosions occur, as well as osteolysis of both digital tufts and joint areas. However, juxta-articular periosteal new bone formation occurs, as well as ankylosis.
Histopathology – Cardinal Features Marked thickening of the epidermis (acanthosis) Absence of the granular layer Retention of the nuclei in the horny layer (parakeratosis) Accumulations of polymorphs in the horny layer (Munros microabscesses) Dilated capillary loops in the upper dermis.
Clinical Patterns of Psoriasis Classical plaque (psoriasis vulgaris) Scalp Ps Nail Ps GuttateFlexuralBrittleErythrodermic Acute pustular (of von Zumbusch) Chronic palmoplantar pustular (of Barber) Arthropathic Ps
Classical Plaque Psoriasis (psoriasis vulgaris) The commonest pattern Single or multiple red plaques (papules) varying from a few millimeters to several centimeters in diameter with a scaly surface Psoriatic step-by-step triad obtained by scraping: - silvery (stearin) staining - terminal (wet) plate - cappilary-point haemorrhage (Auspitz sign) Predilection for extensor surfaces: the knees, the elbows and the base of the spine Lesions are often symmetrical The scalp and nails are often affected and the arthropathy may also occur Psoriatic plaques may appear at the site of trauma or scarring – Koebner or isomorphic phenomenon
Scalp Psoriasis Scalp may be affected alone Can be difficult to distinguish from severe seborrhoeic dermatitis Lesions vary from one or two plaques to a sheet of thick scale covering the whole scalp surface Often, very thick plaques develop, especially at the occiput (nape) Even decades of persistent scalp Ps have remarkable little effect on the hair, but hair loss is not as uncommon as previously stated.
Nail Psoriasis Nail abnormalities are frequent and are almost always present in arthropathic Ps Two common findings can occur together or alone: pitting and onycholysis. Psoriatic nail pits are relatively large and irregularly arranged Onycholysis (lifting of the nail plate) initially produces a dull red area with a salmon-pink rim, but the nail becomes brown or yellow in time.
Guttate Psoriasis Often develops suddenly and may follow an infection, especially a streptococcal sore throat It is common in adolescents and young adults Lesions are about one centimeter in diameter and are usually round in shape Itch is common Lesions can enlarge and become plaque Ps
Flexural Psoriasis (inverse psoriasis) Lesions may occur in the groin, natal cleft, axillae, umbilicus, submammary and gluteal folds Psoriatic balanitis is a form of inverse Ps, that is represented by erythematous plaques on the glans penis Maceration inevitably occurs, and the scale surface is often lost, leaving a beefy erythematous appearance It is often itchy
Brittle Psoriasis (instable Ps) Lesions consist of thin, irritable scaly areas Lesions may arise de novo or develop suddenly in a patient whose Ps has been stable for years Systemic steroid therapy and potent topical steroids can induce stable Ps to become brittle\ Lesions may rapidly generalize, leading to erythroderma or acute pustular Ps
Erythrodermic Psoriasis When psoriatic plaques merge to involve most, or all, of the skin a state of erythroderma or exfoliative dermatitis results; it may appear de novo The skin is red, hot and scaly; hair and nail loss can develop; itching is severe There may be a generalized lymphadenopathy There is a loss of control of temperature regulation accompanied by bouts of shivering Complications: cardiac failure, renal failure, sudden death due to central hypothermia.
Acute Pustular Psoriasis (of von Zumbusch) This is a life-threatening condition Patients with or without pre-existing Ps suddenly develop widespread erythema, superimposed on which are pustules Pustules can coalesce into lakes of pus (Kogoj- Lapierre pustules) The pustules are sterile The patient has a high, swinging fever and is toxic and unwell, with a leucocytosis If untreated, may die, often of secondary infections.
Chronic Palmo-Plantar Psoriasis (of Barber) It is unusual for patients to have chronic palmo- plantar pustulosis in association with other forms of Ps The typical changes consist of erythematous patches with numerous pustules These gradually change into brown, scaly spots and peel off Lesions may involve a small area of one hand or foot, or cover the entire surface of both palms and soles This may lead to considerable disability
Arthropathic Psoriasis One of the most unpleasant complication of Ps is arthropathy, affecting up to 10% of psoriatics There are four basic clinical patterns: - distal interphalangeal joint involvement (DIP form) - seronegative rheumatoid-like joint changes - large joint mono- or polyathropathy - spondylitis Psoriatic arthropathy is erosive and may result in joint destruction Psoriatics who develop the spondylitic for are usually HLA B27 positive, as in Reiters syndrome.
Treatment of Psoriasis It is an old adage that if there are many treatments for a disease, none works perfectly – this is certainly true of psoriasis Although each modality is useful in some patients, all represent a compromise in terms of safety, effectiveness and convenience Many patients require a regimen of different agents for different sites at different times.