THURSDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Inflammation caused by
psoriasis may trigger changes in a person's cholesterol, including
weakening the function of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the
"good" cholesterol, new research suggests.
The researchers said that, if confirmed, their findings could
help explain why people with psoriasis -- a chronic skin condition
-- are at greater risk for heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular
death, especially if the psoriasis is moderate to severe.
"Anecdotally, many researchers have observed that HDL levels may be lower in states of inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and even obesity," study author Dr. Nehal Mehta, director of the Inflammatory Risk Clinic in the preventive cardiology program at the University of Pennsylvania, said in a university news release.
"However, these new findings suggest that in addition to lower levels, chronic inflammation associated with conditions like psoriasis may change the composition and decrease the function of HDL as well," Mehta added.
In the study, the researchers measured cholesterol levels in 78
people with psoriasis and examined the number and size of the
cholesterol particles. The results were compared to those of 84
people who didn't have the skin condition.
The investigators found that patients with psoriasis had a
greater number of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad"
cholesterol particles unrelated to other risk factors or obesity.
The researchers also noted these particles were smaller.
In a second study, the researchers examined how well the
participants' HDL removed cholesterol from cells involved in
atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries." The findings
revealed that having psoriasis was associated with a reduction in
the protective benefit of good cholesterol by about 25 percent.
While the study uncovered an association between psoriasis and
HDL function, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, and
the researchers say more study is needed to confirm the link.
"We've been able to show that psoriasis is an important risk factor for vascular disease, and now we may finally be able to identify and ultimately treat the pathways by which psoriasis increases these risks," senior study author Dr. Joel M. Gelfand, an assistant professor of dermatology and epidemiology, noted in the news release.
The study was presented Wednesday at the American Heart
Association annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. Because this research
was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should
be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about