In order to evaluate more fully the role of neuropeptides in the pathogenesis of psoriasis, skin biopsies were obtained from 36 patients with psoriasis to identify substance P (SP), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). Lesional and nonlesional skin was examined from these biopsies and the results compared with those from biopsies taken from patients with a variety of other inflammatory dermatoses, including lichen planus, lichen simplex chronicus, spongiotic dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis. Also studied was a series of nine biopsies taken from patients with no known skin disorders. We found an increase in the number of SP-positive nerve fibers within the epidermis in biopsies from lesional skin of psoriasis patients (8.4 nerves per 3-mm biopsy) compared with nonlesional psoriatic skin (2.6 nerves per 3-mm biopsy) and normal skin (2.0 nerves per 3 mm biopsy). Other inflammatory disorders also demonstrated fewer SP-positive nerves than lesional psoriatic skin; lichen planus (0 nerves per 3 mm biopsy) and lichen simplex chronicus (1.3 nerves per 3 mm biopsy). The difference in SP-positive nerve expression between lesional psoriatic skin and the group comprising nonlesional skin, normal skin, lichen planus, and lichen simplex chronicus attained statistical significance (P < 0.013). SP-positive intraepidermal nerve fibers in lesional psoriatic specimens were fewer than in spongiotic dermatitis (17.4 nerves per 3 mm biopsy). There was no significant difference in numbers of VIP- or CGRP-immunopositive intraepidermal nerve fibers between psoriatic skin and the group comprising all other material tested. However, in five patients with psoriasis, there was a marked increase in the expression of intraepidermal CGRP (up to 10.7 nerves per 3-mm biopsy) and VIP (up to 8.3 nerves per 3-mm biopsy) which was not observed in control groups. These findings suggest that neuropeptides SP, CGRP, and VIP play a role in the pathogenesis of psoriasis.
- Calcitonin-gene-related protein
- Substance P
- Vasoactive intestinal peptide
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