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Eur J Pharmacol. 2017 Oct 15;813:33-41. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2017.07.040. Epub 2017 Jul 21.

Imiquimod-induced psoriasis-like inflammation in differentiated Human keratinocytes: Its evaluation using curcumin.

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Research and Development, The Himalaya Drug Company, Bangalore 562162, India. Electronic address:
Research and Development, The Himalaya Drug Company, Bangalore 562162, India.


Psoriasis is considered to be a systemic disease of immune dysfunction. It is still unclear what triggers the inflammatory cascade associated with psoriasis but recent evidences suggest the vital role of IL-23/IL-17A cytokine axis in etiology of psoriasis. Several studies have been conducted in psoriatic-like animal models but ethical issues and complexity surrounding it halts the screening of new anti-psoriatic drug candidates. Hence, in this study, we developed a new in-vitro model for psoriasis using imiquimod (IMQ) induced differentiated HaCaT cells which could be used for screening of new anti-psoriatic drug candidates. The differentiated HaCaT cells were treated with IMQ (100μM) to induce psoriatic like inflammation and its effect was investigated using a natural anti-psoriatic compound, curcumin. The proliferation of psoriatic-like cells was inhibited by curcumin at 25 and 50µM concentrations. The psoriatic-like cells decreased in number with increase in apoptotic and dead cells upon curcumin treatment. Curcumin inhibited the proliferation of IMQ-induced differentiated HaCaT cells (Psoriatic-like cells) by down-regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, interleukin-17, tumor necrosis factor-α, interferon-γ, and interleukin-6. Apart from this, curcumin significantly enhanced the skin-barrier function by up-regulation of involucrin (iNV) and filaggrin (FLG), the regulators of epidermal skin barrier. The IMQ-induced differentiated HaCaT in vitro model recapitulated some aspects of the psoriasis pathogenesis similar to murine model. Henceforth, we conclude that this model may be used for rapid screening of anti-psoriatic drug candidates and warrant further mechanistic studies.


Curcumin; HaCaT; IL-17; Imiquimod; In vitro model; Inflammation; Psoriasis

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