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Trends Immunol. 2009 Oct;30(10):494-501. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Sep 24.

Psoriasis--as an autoimmune disease caused by molecular mimicry.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, Landspitali University Hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland.


Psoriasis is strongly associated with streptococcal throat infection, and patients have increased occurrence of such infections. Psoriatic lesional T cells are oligoclonal, and T cells recognizing determinants common to streptococcal M-protein and keratin have been detected in patients' blood. We propose that CD8(+) T cells in psoriatic epidermis respond mainly to such determinants, whereas CD4(+) T cells in the dermis preferentially recognize determinants on the streptococcal peptidoglycan that might itself act as an adjuvant. The streptococcal association might reflect the concurrence of superantigen production promoting skin-homing of tonsil T cells, M-protein mimicking keratin determinants, and adjuvant effects of the peptidoglycan. Accordingly, improvement of psoriasis after tonsillectomy should be associated with fewer T cells that recognize keratin and streptococcal determinants.

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