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Arch Dermatol. 2007 Feb;143(2):223-31.

Psoriasis and pustular dermatitis triggered by TNF-{alpha} inhibitors in patients with rheumatologic conditions.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology and Skin Science, The Skin Care Centre, 835 West 10th Ave, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V5Z 4E8.



New onset or worsening of psoriasis has been reported in patients treated with tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors for a variety of rheumatologic conditions. There is mounting evidence that a key innate immune pathway for triggering common human autoimmune disease, including psoriasis, involves plasmacytoid dendritic cell precursors (PDCs) and type 1 interferon (IFN) production. We present herein a case series with clinical and histopathologic evidence of psoriasis in patients with rheumatologic disease treated with TNF-alpha inhibitors. We propose that the cross regulation between TNF-alpha and IFN may have a role in the pathogenesis of this reaction.


We observed new-onset psoriasis (n = 13) or severe exacerbation of psoriasis (n = 2) in 15 patients with a variety of rheumatologic conditions-rheumatoid arthritis (n = 13), psoriatic arthritis (n = 1), and seronegative arthritis (n = 1)-during treatment with etanercept (n = 6), infliximab (n = 5), and adalimumab (n = 4). Immunohistochemical staining of skin biopsy specimens for myxovirus-resistance protein A (MxA, a surrogate marker for lesional type 1 IFN activity) showed increased staining in TNF-alpha inhibitor-induced psoriasis compared with psoriasis vulgaris.


New onset or severe exacerbation of psoriasis is a rare complication of TNF-alpha inhibitor therapy. The finding of increased production of IFN-alpha in TNF-alpha inhibitor-induced psoriasis is a possible pathophysiologic explanation for this reaction.

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