Type 2 diabetes drug helps psoriasis, too

| Melissa Leavitt

A type 2 diabetes drug may do double-duty as a psoriasis treatment. According to a recent review, some people with psoriasis who took a kind of drug called a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) agonist for their diabetes also experienced an unexpected improvement in their psoriasis.

The review, which discussed five studies and case reports, was published in the July issue of Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism.

GLP-1, the researchers explain, is a peptide, or amino acid chain, that increases insulin secretion. GLP-1 agonists help activate this process.

According to the researchers, GLP-1 agonists can help regulate the immune system by reducing systemic inflammation. Previous studies have shown that GLP-1 agonists inhibit tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), the researchers report. TNF-alpha is a cytokine, or protein, involved in psoriatic disease inflammation.

Many biologic treatments for psoriasis, such as Enbrel (etanercept) and Humira (adalimumab), work by blocking TNF-alpha.

Type 2 diabetes, a comorbidity of psoriasis, is associated with inflammation, the researchers note. Previous research has found that obesity, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and psoriasis, can lead to an increase in inflammation, because fat cells secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines.

In one study analyzed by the researchers, a patient taking both the GLP-agonist and Soriatane (acitretin), a systemic medication for psoriasis, experienced a reduction in psoriasis area and severity index score (PASI) from 14.2 to 7.6. Psoriasis disease severity is determined by assessing the degree of redness, shedding, plaque thickness and affected body surface area, degree of itching, and the impact of psoriasis on quality of life. Psoriasis with a PASI score under 10 is generally considered to be mild. In another study of seven patients with psoriasis, two experienced at least a 50 percent improvement in PASI score (known as PASI 50).

The therapy was well-tolerated by most patients, according to the researchers. In some cases, the researchers note, a patient’s psoriasis improved before the drug took effect as a diabetes medication, suggesting that it improves psoriasis by working directly on the immune system.

Three clinical trials have tested GLP-1 agonist therapy for psoriasis, according to the researchers. Two of these were for patients with psoriasis alone, and one was for patients with psoriasis and type 2 diabetes. Larger studies with longer follow-up periods are needed to explore whether GLP-1 agonist therapy could be an effective psoriasis treatment, the researchers conclude.


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

Giving Tuesday save the date logo
#GivingTuesday gives you a worthwhile alternative to the holiday shopping...
Mason Zimmerman and Ethan Stafford at Team NPF Cycle
Meet the 12-year-old boys leading the next generation fighting against...
FDA APPROVED stamped on dab of cream
Clinical trials show new topical corticosteroid may help achieve clear or...
woman on sofa blowing her nose
Adopt these simple habits and stay healthy all winter.
Volunteers walking through the halls of Congress
NPF Advocacy Action Networks harness the power of many voices to support one...
There are more treatments now for PsA, but we still have a long way to go. NPF...
researchers in a lab
NPF just awarded more than $2 million in research grants and fellowships. Here’...
A recap of 2018 health care policy in the Golden State shows victories for...
Expanded availability of short-term plans may come with hidden costs and...