Psoriasis - as an autoimmune disease caused by molecular mimicry

Helgi Valdimarsson, Ragna H Thorleifsdottir, Sigrun L Sigurdardottir, Johann E Gudjonsson, Andrew Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Psoriasis is strongly associated with streptococcal throat infection, and patients have increased occurrence of such infections. Psoriatic lesional T cells are oligoclonal, and T cells recognizing determinants common to streptococcal M-protein and keratin have been detected in patients' blood. We propose that CD8(+) T cells in psoriatic epidermis respond mainly to such determinants, whereas CD4(+) T cells in the dermis preferentially recognize determinants on the streptococcal peptidoglycan that might itself act as an adjuvant. The streptococcal association might reflect the concurrence of superantigen production promoting skin-homing of tonsil T cells, M-protein mimicking keratin determinants, and adjuvant effects of the peptidoglycan. Accordingly, improvement of psoriasis after tonsillectomy should be associated with fewer T cells that recognize keratin and streptococcal determinants.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2009

Other keywords

  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Dermis
  • Epidermis
  • Humans
  • Keratins
  • Molecular Mimicry
  • Palatine Tonsil
  • Peptidoglycan
  • Psoriasis
  • Streptococcal Infections
  • Streptococcus
  • Superantigens
  • Tonsillitis


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