Humans are a naturally curious creature and will want to know all about anything that is outside of the ordinary. For someone who is gift wrapped in psoriasis, we already know that we are extraordinary for many reasons. Responding to curious stares and cliché questions can become a little more tolerable when you are armed with some fresh information about psoriasis.
Psoriasis affects us more than we realise
About 30 percent of individuals with psoriasis have a family history of the disease in a first or second degree relative. This means that while someone may not experience psoriasis themselves, chances are that someone in their immediate family or someone who shares 25% of their genes does. This includes uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, grandparents, grandchildren, half-siblings, and double cousins. (1)
Langerhans and T cells got the message wrong
Psoriasis is known to be stimulated by a type of dendric cell known as the Langerhans cells. Langerhans stimulate our immune system which in turn activates T cells to clear infection by killing virus-infected cells.
Our T cells use cytokines to communicate to some of the other trillion or so cells in our body. In the case of psoriasis, the message being delivered by the T cells is to send in some inflammation and immune response. However, the message is distorted and leads to an exaggerated increase in the number of keratin producing epidermal skin cells, known as keratinocytes.
The approximate time it takes for normal skin cells to grow, mature and shed keratinocytes is 28 days, and in the case of psoriasis this process takes just 2-4 Days. (2)
This means that psoriasis patients shed their skin between 7 – 14 times faster than the average person because the Langerhans and T cells got the message wrong.
Bone marrow transplant recipients who previously did not have psoriasis, and have received their bone marrow from someone who did have psoriasis, have gone on to developed psoriasis after the transplant.
On the flip side people with psoriasis who receive a bone marrow transplant (BMT) from a donor without psoriasis, have experienced a clearing of psoriasis.
In the past 25 years, more than 30 patients with psoriasis who underwent BMT have subsequently achieved long-term remission of psoriasis. Before these patients received the bone marrow transplant their immune system was effectively eliminated by a preconditioning regimen, and any immune response after the BMT is typically of donor origin. (3)
As always, I hope this informs you, gives you an understanding and arms you with a comeback line!
- Capon F, Munro M, Barker J, Trembath R. Searching for the major histocompatibility complex psoriasis susceptibility gene. J Invest Dermatol 2002;118:745751.
- Alternative Medicine Review 2007;12:320
- Kanamori H, Tanaka M, Kawaguchi H, Yamaji S, Fujimaki K, Tomita N, et al. Resolution of psoriasis following allogeneic bone marrow transplantation for chronic myelogenous leukemia: case report and review of the literature. Am J Hematol. 2002;71:41–44.