Which Genes Cause Psoriasis?
Three main genes have been caught red-handed, and markers for psoriasis have been identified on 11 chromosomes (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 16,17,18,19 and 20). The genes are as follows:
• PSORS1 was the first gene identified in a large clinical study into psoriasis genetics which was published in the May 2006 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics. PSORS1 is a variant of a specific gene called HLA-Cw6, which is a gene that helps to regulate how the system fights off infection and distinguishes between good and evil in terms of microbes, viruses and other pathogens. Psoriasis is known to be an immunological disease, whereby the body attacks its own cells, increasing cell turnover rates so that skin sheds faster. Furthermore, up to 60% of people with psoriasis have this gene. This makes it a key suspect in the psoriasis genetics line-up!
• The VEGF gene (Vuscular Endothelial Growth Factor) has also been identified as suspicious by University of Manchester’s Dr Helen Young, who first published her findings in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. She found that VEGF levels were higher than normal in psoriatic skin lesions. This gene is part of a system that restores blood supply to areas where blood circulation is inadequate. This means that it is pumping more of that gooey red liquid to your psoriasis patches!
• This last gene is curious because it is usually missing from people who have psoriasis. Genetic experts at the University of Nottingham found that genes LCE3B and LCE3C are nowhere to be found! Writing in the journal Nature Genetics, they found that these two genes seem to be involved in how the skin responds to damage. When they are missing in the genetic code, they may contribute to the sequence of inflammation and damage which repeats indefinitely in psoriasis.
Such promising research into psoriasis genetics is great news for psoriasis. Although these genes may only be the top of the stack, every year researchers will get closer and closer to solving the riddle that is psoriasis. As the psoriasis DNA samples in centres like the National Psoriasis Victor Henschel BioBank increase and more funds are poured towards this end, the future is smooth and pink for psoriasis!