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Derm News: 2007.16(6)

Study of substance P and its receptor neurokinin-1 in psoriasis and their relation to chronic stress and pruritus

Archives of Dermatological Research, 299(2):85-91
C. Remrod, S. Lonne-Rahm, K. Nordlind


Substance P and its receptor(R) neurokinin (NK)-1 may have a role in the pathogenesis of psoriasis. Stress has been reported to play a role in the onset and exacerbation of psoriasis, which might include the substance P-NK-1 receptor(R) pathway. A feature of psoriasis, that has been correlated to the severity of stress and secretion of substance P, is pruritus. The objective of this study was to investigate the expression of substance P and the NK-1R in involved and noninvolved psoriatic skin, using a biotinylated streptavidin technique. Moreover, a possible correlation between the patientīs level of chronic stress, measured by salivary cortisol samples, degree of lesional pruritus, measured by means of a visual analogue scale, and the expression of substance P- and the NK-1R, was investigated. There was a low number of substance P positive nerve fibres in noninvolved and involved skin, the major immunoreactivity for substance P being found in inflammatory cells. The number of substance P- and NK-1R positive inflammatory cells was increased in involved compared to noninvolved psoriatic skin. The substance P positive cells were mostly lymphocytes, while most of the NK-1R positive cells were mast cells. NK-1R immunoreactivity was also seen as a reticular pattern in the upper part of the epidermis of involved skin in the majority of the patients. Low cortisol ratios in the patients, being an indicator of chronic stress, were correlated to an increased number of substance P- and NK-1R positive inflammatory cells in noninvolved psoriatic skin, and higher cortisol ratios to the presence of keratinocyte NK-1R immunoreactivity in involved skin. The degree of pruritus could not be correlated to the number of substance P positive fibers nor cells. Nonneuronal substance P and its receptor NK-1 might have a role in psoriasis, also during chronic stress.

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The Derm News service provided by the Editorial Consultants of Skin Therapy Letter© and its founding editor Dr. Stuart Maddin.