Hidradenitis suppurativa may link to Alzheimer's

August 21, 2012

Recent findings regarding hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) highlight a possible genetic link to Alzheimer’s disease, said Ginette A. Hinds, M.D., at the 2012 American Academy of Dermatology Summer Academy Meeting.

Boston - Recent findings regarding hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) highlight a possible genetic link to Alzheimer's disease, said Ginette A. Hinds, M.D., at the 2012 American Academy of Dermatology Summer Academy Meeting.

“There's increasing evidence of a role for genetics in HS," says Dr. Hinds, director, department of dermatology and the Ethnic Skin Program, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore. Specifically, researchers working with Han Chinese families have reported that mutations in the PSEN1, PSENEN and NCSTN genes are associated with a subset of familial HS (Wang B, Yang W, Wen W, et al. Science. 2010;330(6007):1065).

PSEN1 is also known to cause early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. Hinds explains. "People researching both of these diseases may be able to glean some information from studying patients with these gene mutations,” she says.

A CV connection?
"It's well known that HS worsens with increasing BMI," including pregnancy-associated weight gain, Dr. Hinds says. Given the link between HS and obesity, "We must ask ourselves if patients with HS are more likely to have other diseases associated with cardiovascular risk - diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovarian syndrome.”

If so, physicians could use HS as a medium to counsel patients with elevated CV risk about weight loss and nutrition, Dr. Hinds says. "Because it's such a dreadful disease, trying to control HS might be a bigger motivation than weight loss itself.”

Biofilms and HS
A study that Dr. Hinds was writing up at press time looked for biofilms in acute HS lesions.

"HS lesions are the perfect environment for biofilm development, given the presence of abnormal tissue and sinus tracts (in more severe disease),” she says. “So we thought we would find biofilm, but we did not. We know that bacteria play some role in potentiating the inflammatory response, but they are probably not the primary insult."

Disclosures: Dr. Hinds' biofilm study was supported by a grant from the Dermatology Foundation.

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