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Diminished Humoral Responses Against and Reduced Gene Expression Levels of Human Endogenous Retrovirus-K (HERV-K) in Psoriasis

Gupta et al., Journal of Translational Medicine (2014) - PMID: 25224121

Product(s) used in this publication: PepMix™ Peptide Pools

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:

Psoriasis is a multifactorial, chronic disease of skin affecting 2-3% of the world's population. Genetic studies of psoriasis have identified a number of susceptibility genes that are involved in anti-viral immunity. Furthermore, physiological studies have also found an increase in anti-viral proteins in psoriatic skin. These findings suggest the presence of an anti-viral state in psoriatic skin. However, the triggers for this anti-viral cascade and its consequences for host immunity are not known. Endogenous retroviruses have previously been described in many autoimmune diseases including psoriasis.

METHODS:

In the present study we examined the humoral immune response against human endogenous retrovirus-K (HERV-K) proteins and the cutaneous expression levels of multiple HERV-K genes in psoriasis patients and healthy controls.

RESULTS:

In psoriatic sera we observed a significant decrease in IgM response against three HERV-K proteins: Env surface unit (SU), Env transmembrane protein (TM), and Gag capsid (CA) in comparison to sera obtained from blood bank healthy controls. A decrease in IgG response was also observed against CA. Furthermore, using quantitative RT-PCR we observed a decrease in the expression of HERV-K Env, Gag, Pol and Rec as well as ERV-9 genes in lesional psoriatic skin as compared to healthy skin.

CONCLUSIONS:

Together, our results suggest that the pro-inflammatory, anti-viral state in psoriasis is associated with diminished expression of HERV-K gene transcripts and a concomitant decrease in humoral responses to HERV-K. Our results indicate that a simple model where continuous, minimally changing HERV-K expression serves as an antigenic trigger in psoriasis might not be correct and further studies are needed to decipher the possible relationship between psoriasis and HERVs.

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