Characterization of Inflammatory Cytokine Gene Expression in a Family with a History of Psoriasis

(1) La Jolla High School, La Jolla, California, (2) Westview High School, San Diego, California, (3) DermTech, La Jolla, California

Psoriasis is a heritable disease characterized by abnormal red and itchy skin patches. To determine if the children of a father with psoriasis express psoriasis-related biomarkers without demonstrating clinical signs of the disease, epidermal skin from the mastoid process behind the ear was harvested from four family members, RNA was extracted from it, and the expression of ten genes involved in the inflammatory cytokine pathway of psoriasis were analyzed by qRT-PCR. Gene expression for TNF-α, a cytokine known to cause psoriasis, was found to be consistent with the family members’ disease status; while the father showed elevation of TNF-α gene expression, TNF-α was not expressed in other family members. No other inflammatory cytokines associated with psoriasis were found to be significantly elevated including in the mother, who is disease-free and served as a control. Antimicrobial peptides and other markers of active psoriatic disease were not elevated in the father or other family members. Elevations in lymphocyte migration factor and IL-23a found in one child could be explored as potential predisposing factors to future disease development.

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