Psoriasis—More Than Just Skin Deep

June_2016First and foremost, psoriasis is a skin condition. But new studies are showing that this same condition that inflames and irritates the elbows, knees, and scalps of 125 million people worldwide can also have a negative impact on bone density, resulting in osteopenia and osteoporosis.

The links between psoriasis and bone loss were first published last year in the Journal of Dermatology. Researchers from the Sapienza University of Rome studied a sample of 43 psoriasis patients, finding osteopenia in 60%, and full osteoporosis in 18%. This same study also indicated that the longer a patient had psoriasis, the greater the chance of bone loss, with risks increasing approximately 5% each year.

While compelling, the 2015 Sapienza University study required further corroboration, as it was a fairly small sample. But now the Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO) has conducted its own research to explore the psoriasis-bone loss connection, and with similar results.

Through mouse and human tests, the CNIO concluded there is indeed a molecular link between the two conditions. According to CNIO researcher Özge Uluçan, “psoriasis causes the widespread and progressive loss of bone tissue.” As to the actual cause of the link, that appears to be the large amounts of the cytokine IL-17—the very same protein that activates inflammation in psoriasis patients.

So what are the takeaways of this new information? If you’re living with psoriasis, there are two big ones. Now that you know your psoriasis may also lead to osteopenia and osteoporosis, it’s the perfect time to get ahead of things and schedule a screening for bone loss. The second important takeaway is that, while the link between psoriasis and bone loss is a fairly recent discovery, some treatments are already available. Because both are related to an overabundance of IL-17 proteins, existing IL-17 inhibitor products intended for treating psoriasis can also help fight bone loss.

For more information, check out Psoriasis Patients Experience Widespread Bone Loss at News-Medical.net, and Link Found Between Osteoporosis and Psoriasis, Psoriatic Arthritis at Psoriasis.org.