Characterization of PCSK9 in the Blood and Skin of Psoriasis

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Investigative Dermatology




© 2020 The Authors Mechanisms explaining the link between psoriasis, a proinflammatory condition, and cardiovascular disease are not fully known. PCSK9 is predominantly expressed in hepatocytes as a critical regulator of lipid metabolism, and clinical trials targeting PCSK9 reduce cardiovascular disease. Independent of its role in lipid metabolism, PCSK9 levels associate with endothelial dysfunction and predict cardiovascular events. We used two separate human psoriasis cohorts and the K14-Rac1V12−/+ murine model of psoriasis to investigate PCSK9 and cardiovascular risk in psoriasis. In both psoriasis cohorts (n = 88 and n = 20), PCSK9 levels were 20% and 13% higher than in age-, sex-, and cholesterol-matched controls, respectively (P < 0.05 for each comparison) and correlated with PASI (r = 0.43, P < 0.05). Despite no difference in hepatocyte expression, K14-Rac1V12−/+ mice demonstrated skin-specific PCSK9 staining, which was confirmed in human psoriatic lesional skin. In patients with psoriasis, PCSK9 levels correlated with impaired endothelial vascular health (e.g., early atherosclerosis, β = 4.5, P < 0.01) and log converted coronary artery calcium score (β = 0.30, P = 0.01), which remained significant after adjustment for Framingham risk, body mass index, and active biologic use. Taken together, these findings suggest, independent of cholesterol, an association between circulating PCSK9 and early as well as advanced stages of atherosclerosis in psoriasis.