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Inflammation May Play A Similar Role in Atopic Dermatitis, Psoriasis, And Major Depressive Disorder


A poster from the 2024 American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting delved into the relationship between MDD and various dermatologic conditions.

Young man put hands with eczema to his head
Image Credit: © Ольга Тернавская - stock.adobe.com

Research has indicated that inflammation may play a role in psychiatric disorders such as major depressive disorder and dermatological disorders such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. A new poster presented at the 2024 American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting now points to 2 possible common markers as a potential target for future treatment strategies.1

The study included 108 adults aged 18-70 years; more than half of the participants (56%) were male. Diagnoses among the participants included major depressive disorder without a history of inflammatory disease (N=25), atopic dermatitis (N=30), or psoriasis (n=21). The study also included 32 control participants considered “healthy.” Blood samples were collected from all participants and analyzed using the proteomic Olink assay of 363 proteins that consisted of 4 panels of general cardiovascular and neural inflammatory markers. A fold-change >1.5 and false discovery rate < 0.05 denoted differentially expressed proteins in blood between any comparison. The investigators performed gene set variation analyses (GSVA) on previously curated immune marker datasets.

Overall, blood samples from patients with MDD showed rates of biomarkers that cause increased inflammation. Specifically, when comparing blood samples from patients with MDD with the other groups, blood samples from patients with MDD resulted in higher expression of markers associated with vascular inflammation and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease signaling, including PECAM1 SELP/P-selectin VWF SIRT2 STAMBP. In addition, these patients’ samples showed higher expression of markers associated with pro-apoptotic pathways, including CD274 CASP3 CASP8. These higher associations were statistically significant at P<0.001.

MDD and the dermatological diseases studied aligned more in associations with higher T-helper 2 (Th2) immunomodulators and Th17 markers. Specifically, blood samples from patients with psoriasis and MDD showed higher Th17 markers such as CXCL1 and KYNU (p<0.001, p<0.01), respectively when compared with control patients. Meanwhile when compared with control participants’ samples. Patients with atopic dermatitis and MDD showed higher Th2 immunomodulators such as CCL13 (p<0.001).

“Although MDD is associated with an immune dysregulation profile that is distinct from atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, there is a striking similarity in their adaptive immune proteomics (ie, Th2 and Th17 markers),” the poster concluded. “Effective treatments targeting Th2 and Th17 markers could be promising in patients with MDD who demonstrate dysregulation of these immune pathways.”

Previous research has linked depressive disorders with inflammatory-related dermatological disorders. For instance, a study on the associations between depression, inflammation, and psoriasis with brain structure and connectivity, the researchers found “evidence for a combined effect of psoriasis and depression on the precuneus, which is not directly linked to systemic inflammation, and may relate to suicidality or altered somatosensory processing.”2


  1. Rizk MM. Cathomas F, Murrough J, He H, Guttman E Similar and unique immune proteomic profiles of major depressive disorder and primary dermatological disorders: a potential for novel treatments. Poster presented at: 2024 American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting; May 3 – 8, 2024; New York City, New York. https://s7.goeshow.com/apa/annual/2024/poster_search.cfm?session_key=8E8E1EB2-90B1-1C06-DFD2-0334F3BFED3C&session_date=Saturday,%20May%2004,%202024
  2. Bader K. Connection Between Psoriasis and Depression. Dermatology Times. December 2, 2024. Accessed May 5, 2024. https://www.dermatologytimes.com/view/connection-between-psoriasis-and-depression

[This article was originally published by our sister publication, Psychiatric Times.]

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