Enbrel lowers cardiovascular disease risk in study

| Melissa Leavitt

You may already know that treating psoriasis can also help lower risk for cardiovascular disease. Now a new study helps explain why some treatments are better than others at reducing that risk.

Past research indicates that certain psoriasis medications effectively address cardiovascular risk factors, a comorbidity associated with psoriasis.A team of researchers recently compared the biologic medication Enbrel (etanercept) with UVB phototherapy to further examine the impact of different medications on cardiovascular health.

Their study divided patients into two treatment groups, measuring the blood levels of cardiovascular risk markers before and after therapy. Both treatment groups experienced improvement in their psoriasis. The 20 patients who took Enbrel also experienced a reduction in cardiovascular risk markers—but the 21 patients who underwent UVB therapy did not.

These results could be explained by the different ways the two treatments target inflammation, said Dr. Charlotta Enerbäck, a co-author of the study.

"The systemic inflammation in psoriasis leads to increased cardiovascular risk," Enerbäck said. Enbrel treats psoriasis by targeting a protein that drives systemic inflammation.

But, as this study suggests, UVB treatment may only target local inflammation in the skin.

"UV light only penetrates into the outer parts of the skin and may therefore not reach the systemic inflammation," Enerbäck explained. "This is actually the first study to demonstrate that UV treatment does not reach the systemic inflammation, which seems to persist although the skin is healed."

The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, highlights the importance of treating systemic inflammation in people with psoriasis, Enerbäck said.

"Many guidelines suggest that UV treatment should be evaluated before taking systemic treatment into consideration," she said. "Our study indicates that this might not be optimal for the group of patients with an increased cardiovascular risk."


Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

Recent Advance Posts

For NPF's new 5-year strategic plan, we're planning the greatest...
It all began when one small organization broke through the static and captured...
NPF launches an ambitious strategic plan to guide all our functions and...
Stephen Katz
Six longtime members of our community remember Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., a...
Michelle Strangis
NPF volunteer Michelle Strangis has employed her decades of law expertise to...
Philip Mease in office in front of Seattle skyline
From barefoot doctor to world-renowned rheumatologist and researcher – meet our...
Our Patient Navigation Center can help.
NPF’s multi-disciplinary Cure Symposium aims to lead the way toward a cure.
Leah McCormick Howard and Stephen Katz
Longtime NIAMS director was a friend to all he served.