A National Psoriasis Foundation grant helped Dr. Nicole Ward at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine determine that psoriasis can cause cardiovascular disease (CVD). Scientists are aware of the connection between psoriasis and CVD, but it was unknown how the two diseases were linked. The study also revealed patients may reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by aggressively treating their psoriasis.
The $50,000 Psoriasis Foundation Discovery Grant allowed Ward and her colleagues to genetically engineer mice to develop a skin condition similar to psoriasis. The research showed that persistent, chronic inflammation over large areas of the body led to inflammation in major arteries, such as the aorta.
This discovery, Ward notes, will change current thinking about psoriasis and heart disease. "There has been a link between the two diseases, but to date we had not been able to show cause," she noted in a university news release.
In addition, Ward and her team investigated whether or not psoriasis mice would also show cardiac complications, identical to those seen in human disease. They measured blood clot formation in the psoriasis mice and normal mice, revealing that the diseased mice exhibited inflammation of the blood vessels similar to that observed in humans with psoriasis.