Study on mice shows how stress can cause or worsen skin diseases

January 9, 2007

San Francisco - Scientists here have completed a study in mice that shows a stress-triggered hormone could worsen or cause skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema

San Francisco-Scientists here have completed a study in mice that shows a stress-triggered hormone could worsen or cause skin disorders such as psoriasis and eczema.

Researchers from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco and the University of California at San Francisco found that blocking the hormone glucocorticoid, which increases in stressful times, resulted in better skin in mice. The study says understanding how glucocorticoids work could help in developing ways to prevent human skin problems triggered by psychological stress.

The researchers subjected hairless mice to stress while either blocking the production of glucocorticoids or blocking the action of the hormone; some mice underwent no treatment. The stress was created by placing the mice in small, constantly lighted cages with a radio playing for 48 hours.

The two groups of mice treated with a glucocorticoid-blocker displayed far better skin function compared with untreated, stressed mice.

While the researchers write that they hope the study will lead to a way to treat people who suffer skin conditions, they conclude that more testing is needed. They also note that blocking glucocorticoids could have negative side effects that are worse than exacerbations of skin disorders.