Vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors: investigational therapies for the treatment of psoriasis
Anja K Weidemann,1 Ania A Crawshaw,2 Emily Byrne,3 Helen S Young1
1The Dermatology Centre, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; 2Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, UK; 3University Hospital of South Manchester, Manchester, UK
Abstract: Psoriasis is a common inflammatory autoimmune condition in which environmental factors and genetic predisposition contribute to the development of disease in susceptible individuals. Angiogenesis is known to be a key pathogenic feature of psoriasis. Local and systemic elevation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A has been demonstrated in the skin and plasma of patients with psoriasis and is known to correlate with improvement following some traditional psoriasis treatments. A number of VEGF inhibitors are licensed for the treatment of malignancies and eye disease and isolated case reports suggest that some individuals with psoriasis may improve when exposed to these agents. The small number of cases and lack of unified reporting measures makes it difficult to draw generalizations and underline the heterogeneity of psoriasis as a disease entity. Though not yet licensed for the treatment of psoriasis in humans, experimental data supports the potential of VEGF inhibitors to influence relevant aspects of human cell biology (such as endothelial cell differentiation) and to improve animal models of skin disease. Given the multi-factorial nature of psoriasis it is unlikely that VEGF inhibitors will be effective in all patients, however they have the potential to be a valuable addition to the therapeutic arsenal in selected cases. Current VEGF inhibitors in clinical use are associated with a number of potentially serious side effects including hypertension, left ventricular dysfunction, and gastrointestinal perforation. Such risks require careful consideration in psoriasis populations particularly in light of growing concerns linking psoriasis to increased cardiovascular risk.
Keywords: psoriasis, vascular endothelial growth factor, VEGF, VEGF inhibitor
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