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Sci Rep. 2015 Jul 15;5:12017. doi: 10.1038/srep12017.

Circulating levels of sphingosine-1-phosphate are elevated in severe, but not mild psoriasis and are unresponsive to anti-TNF-α treatment.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Division of Physiological Chemistry 2, Karolinska Institutet, SE-17177, Stockholm, Sweden.
Dermatology Unit, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, SE-17176, Stockholm, Sweden.


Sphingolipids are bioactive molecules with a putative role in inflammation. Alterations in sphingolipids, in particular ceramides, have been consistently observed in psoriatic skin. Herein, we quantified the circulating sphingolipid profile in individuals with mild or severe psoriasis as well as healthy controls. In addition, the effects of anti-TNF-α treatment were determined. Levels of sphingoid bases, including sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), increased in severe (P < 0.001; n = 32), but not in mild (n = 32), psoriasis relative to healthy controls (n = 32). These alterations were not reversed in severe patients (n = 16) after anti-TNF-α treatment despite significant improvement in psoriasis lesions. Circulating levels of sphingomyelins and ceramides shifted in a fatty acid chain length-dependent manner. These alterations were also observed in psoriasis skin lesions and were associated with changes in mRNA levels of ceramide synthases. The lack of S1P response to treatment may have pathobiological implications due to its close relation to the vascular and immune systems. In particular, increased levels of sphingolipids and especially S1P in severe psoriasis patients requiring biological treatment may potentially be associated with cardiovascular comorbidities. The fact that shifts in S1P levels were not ameliorated by anti-TNF-α treatment, despite improvements in the skin lesions, further supports targeting S1P receptors as therapy for severe psoriasis.

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