New clues to link between psoriasis and diabetes

| Melissa Leavitt

New findings may help explain why people with psoriasis are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

According to the results of a study published earlier this month in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, one reason could be that psoriasis patients have more insulin resistance than people without the disease.

Insulin resistance is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, the researchers noted. According to the American Diabetes Association, people who are insulin resistant require higher levels of insulin to properly absorb glucose. This condition, which is also known as low insulin sensitivity, leads to higher blood glucose levels.

Diabetes is a well-known comorbidity of psoriatic disease. Previous research has shown that people with severe psoriasis could be as much as 46 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people without psoriasis.

The study involved 16 people with moderate to severe psoriasis and 16 healthy controls, none of whom had diabetes, prediabetes or immediate family with diabetes. To test the insulin resistance of study participants, researchers administered a blood test called a hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp, described in the study as the “gold standard” for assessing insulin sensitivity.

People with psoriasis had significantly lower insulin sensitivity than people without psoriasis, the researchers reported, meaning that psoriasis patients were more insulin resistant. These findings suggest that psoriasis may be a prediabetic condition, the researchers added.

Previous studies have also identified insulin resistance in people with psoriasis, although only one has used the hyperinsulinemic euglycemic clamp method, according to the researchers.

The presence of insulin resistance in people with psoriasis could be because type 2 diabetes and psoriasis may have similar genetic risk factors, the study noted. Another possible explanation offered by the researchers is that people with either of these diseases have increased levels of cytokines, or proteins that can lead to inflammation.

Further research is needed to confirm these findings in a larger group of patients, and to learn more about the physiological mechanisms leading to insulin resistance in psoriasis patients, the researchers conclude.

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