Obesity has been found to impair anti-inflammatory immune cells in the skin of mice, potentially explaining why individuals with obesity are at a higher risk of developing psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin condition characterized by dry, scaly patches, and it is about twice as prevalent in people with obesity compared to those without it.
Researchers at Emory University genetically analyzed regulatory T-cells in mice and identified a unique subset of these cells that are prevalent in the rodents' skin. They then genetically modified mice to lack these cells and observed that their skin became almost 50% thicker, on average, when induced with psoriasis-like symptoms. This suggests that these cells play a role in preventing psoriasis.
To examine the influence of obesity, the researchers fed another group of mice a high-fat diet. They found that the skin samples from these mice had fewer regulatory T-cells and were more reactive to the psoriasis-inducing cream compared to skin samples from mice on ordinary diets. These findings indicate that obesity impairs anti-inflammatory immune cells crucial for preventing psoriasis.
The researchers also discovered that a drug called pioglitazone, which boosts the activity of regulatory T-cells, reduced skin inflammation in mice with obesity. This drug is commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, and studies have suggested that people with diabetes have a lower risk of psoriasis while on this drug. This suggests that pioglitazone could potentially be used to treat psoriasis as well.
However, it remains unclear whether these findings can be translated to humans. Further research is needed to understand how this subset of cells differs in humans with psoriasis and obesity compared to those with one or none of these conditions.
These findings provide insights into the link between obesity and psoriasis and suggest that dietary interventions and the use of specific drugs could potentially help treat the condition. However, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms involved and to determine the effectiveness of these interventions in humans.