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J Mol Med (Berl). 2003 Aug;81(8):471-80. Epub 2003 Jul 18.

A molecule solves psoriasis? Systemic therapies for psoriasis inducing interleukin 4 and Th2 responses.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Tübingen, Liebermeisterstrasse 25, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease affecting 2-4% of the Caucasian population. Inflammatory processes induce the migration of interferon (IFN) gamma producing Th1 lymphocytes into the skin. These play a key role in the pathogenesis of psoriasis. These Th1 lymphocytes are responsible for the pathological reactions in psoriatic skin leading to keratinocyte hyperproliferation, small vessel proliferation and neutrophilic infiltration. Antigen-presenting cells activate dermal CD4+ T lymphocytes, and various signals can support the polarization of Th1 responses. The main signal for Th1 development is interleukin (IL) 12. After binding to their receptors both IL-12 and IFN-gamma promote intracellular IFN-gamma production by activating signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 4 or 1. STAT1 activation by IFN-gamma is followed by T-bet activation, a master transcription factor for Th1 lymphocytes. In experimental models of Th1-mediated autoimmune diseases immune deviation of polarized autoreactive Th1 into anti-inflammatory Th2 responses generally improves the disease. Therefore new therapeutic approaches based on immunomodulating molecules have been developed for psoriasis, a prototypical Th1-mediated autoimmune disorder. Recently IL-4, the most effective Th2-inducing cytokine, has been shown to be safe and efficient for treating psoriasis. Improvement was associated with the induction of a Th2 phenotype of skin infiltrating lymphocytes. This review summarizes the IL-4 inducing potential of various conventional and newer systemic therapies for psoriasis. Many of these were thought to be primarily immunosuppressive. A review of the literature reveals that most of them can induce IL-4 and Th2, and that Th2 induction may be an underestimated mode of action in the therapy of Th1-mediated autoimmune disease. Further studies are needed to determine the central role of IL-4 in the control of Th1-induced autoimmune disease, namely psoriasis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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