The Latest Gene Research on Psoriasis

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Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's immune system, which normally protects the body from infection, becomes dysfunctional or overactive. In people with psoriasis, this process causes increased skin cell growth. Cells pile up on the skin instead of shedding as they are supposed to. This leads to raised plaques (itchy, red, and scaly patches) that often burn or sting and may make people feel uncomfortable to show their skin.

There is research to suggest that certain gene mutations may play a role in developing psoriasis. People with a family history of psoriasis may also be at increased risk.

This article provides an overview of psoriasis and current gene research on the condition.

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Is Psoriasis Likely Genetic?

Psoriasis affects over 3% of Americans, which is more than 7.5 million adults.

Researchers report that some people have specific gene mutations that make them more likely to get psoriasis. However, not everyone with psoriasis has a genetic predisposition or family history of the disease.

People with a family history do have an increased genetic risk of developing psoriasis, though. This is especially true if you have an immediate family member with the condition.

Which Genes Are Involved?

Identifying genetic involvement in diseases is a complex process. In the case of psoriasis, it's still not completely understood.

Researchers have found that there are three genes with known coding variants that are highly associated with psoriasis. These include:

  • HLA-C gene
  • CCHCR1 gene
  • CDSN gene

A different study found that mutations in a gene called CARD14 also are significantly associated with psoriasis. The CARD14 gene assists in the production of proteins that "turn on" other proteins, some of which control the body's immune and inflammatory responses.

Although the CARD14 gene is found throughout the body, it is found in larger amounts in skin tissue.

Are There Other Contributing Factors to Psoriasis?

There are many contributing genetic, immune, and environmental factors that contribute to psoriasis. In some cases, there is no apparent reason for why someone has psoriasis.

Psoriasis is an immune system condition. Scientists have identified several triggers that could initiate immune system hyperactivity and, in some cases, lead to a psoriasis flare-up (a period when symptoms worsen). Triggers can include:

  • A stressful event
  • Illness (especially a strep infection)
  • Injuring the skin
  • Weather changes, especially cold weather
  • Allergies
  • Certain medications, like lithium and beta-blockers
  • Alcohol or nicotine use

Some people with psoriasis can identify specific foods or other environmental factors that lead to flare-ups.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, symptoms usually start between the ages of 15 and 25, although they can start at any age. It can also affect any gender and all skin colors.

How to Control Psoriasis Symptoms

Psoriasis is a chronic condition that fluctuates between flares and periods of remission (when symptoms improve). Fortunately, there are many available treatments to control psoriasis symptoms.

If you are experiencing psoriasis, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider. They can help you choose a treatment plan based on your overall health, the location of the rash on your body, and the severity of your condition.

Standard first-line and at-home treatments for psoriasis include:

  • Topical moisturizers
  • Steroid creams
  • Vitamin D ointment
  • Vitamin A cream
  • Anthralin (topical medication that helps slow skin cell production, available by prescription)
  • Medicated lotions
  • Bath products

If the above treatments are not effective, your healthcare provider may suggest additional therapies, such as:

  • Methotrexate: Medication that will require additional testing to monitor liver health
  • Retinoids: Topical medication that can reduce psoriasis patches of skin
  • Cyclosporine: Drug that slows the growth of some immune cells

Other immune therapies or ultraviolet (UV) light therapy may also be recommended.

Summary

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes increased skin cell growth. The increased skin cells pile up and form patches called plaques that can be itchy or burn.

Research suggests that some people have specific gene mutations that make them more likely to get psoriasis. However, not everyone with psoriasis has a genetic predisposition for the disease. Psoriasis does run in families, and you are more likely to have it if an immediate family member also has it. Researchers have also identified several genes that are significantly associated with psoriasis.

Additional triggers that may stimulate a psoriasis flare-up include stress, illness, a skin injury, medications, medications, or allergies.

A Word From Verywell 

Psoriasis can be a painful and frustrating condition. It can also cause people to feel insecure about their appearance and negatively affect their mental health. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available. Good symptom management is essential, as there is no permanent cure for psoriasis.

If you or a loved one is experiencing psoriasis symptoms, contact your healthcare provider to diagnose and discuss treatment options that are right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the main cause of psoriasis?

    Psoriasis is a type of autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's immune function becomes dysfunctional or overactive. A hyperactive immune system causes increased skin cell growth in people with psoriasis. The increased skin cells pile up on the skin instead of shedding normally.

  • Is psoriasis genetic or autoimmune?

    Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that can be genetic. Researchers found that some people have specific gene mutations that make them more likely to get psoriasis. However, not everyone with psoriasis has a genetic predisposition or family history of the disease.

  • When does psoriasis develop?

    According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, symptoms usually start between the ages of 15 and 25, although they can start at any age. Psoriasis can affect any gender and all skin colors.

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10 Sources
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