Dr Francesca Capon, King’s College London
Several studies have demonstrated that smokers are at increased risk of psoriasis. At the same time, it is not clear whether giving up cigarettes can improve disease symptoms. Our study will address this important question by:
- Identifying the changes that occur in the skin of smokers affected by psoriasis
- Demonstrating that these alterations can be reversed by quitting smoking
Thus, our specific objectives will be:
- To identify changes in chromosome conformation in psoriatic skin. Smoke can affect the way that genes and proteins are packaged together into chromosomes. As this can influence the activity of genes that contribute to inflammation, we will compare chromosome conformation in individuals with psoriasis and healthy volunteers.
- To demonstrate that the chromosome changes observed in psoriatic skin are linked to smoke. We will grow skin cells in a dish, in the presence of chemical substances that are found in cigarette smoke. We will then determine whether these chemicals can induce the same changes we observed in the skin of affected individuals.
- To show that giving up cigarettes can reverse the chromosome changes induced by tobacco. We will obtain skin biopsies from psoriasis sufferers who have agreed to stop smoking. We will determine whether their chromosomes are reverting to a normal conformation and whether this correlates with an improvement in disease symptoms.
Taken together, these experiments are expected to provide a scientific rationale for introducing stop-smoking programmes in the treatment of psoriasis.