Possible association of hepatitis C virus infection with late-onset psoriasis: A hospital-based observational study


Correspondence: Shinichi Imafuku, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Dermatology, Faculty of Medicine, Fukuoka University, 7-45-1 Nanakuma, Fukuoka 814-0180, Japan. Email: dermatologist@mac.com


Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease mainly involving the skin and joints, mediated by pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. In hepatitis C, continuous inflammation mediated by TNF-α leads to liver cirrhosis and diabetes mellitus. Hence, psoriasis and hepatitis C have pathophysiological factors in common. An epidemiological association between the two conditions has been reported, but no detailed research has yet been performed. Frequency of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection was assessed in 717 patients with psoriasis and 38 057 with all other dermatological diseases who visited Fukuoka University Hospital in 1998–2011. HCV+ and HCV psoriatic patients were further compared. Frequency of HCV infection was significantly higher in psoriasis (7.5%) than in controls (3.3%) in overall ages. When stratified by age at the first visit, the frequency was significantly higher in patients with psoriasis than in controls aged in their 60s (11.8% vs 6.6%, respectively, P = 0.0215) and 70s (19.5% vs 7.3%, P < 0.0001). HCV+ psoriatic patients were significantly older at onset than HCV ones (median, 54 vs 39 years), stronger male predominance (male/female ratio, 4.4:1), similar family history of psoriasis, higher association of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, and significantly lower body mass index (22.4 ± 2.73 vs 24.2 ± 4.61), in age-stratified (≥40 years) analysis. HCV+ psoriatic patients were less obese, but still had a higher frequency of diabetes mellitus and hypertension, possibly due to chronic inflammation in the liver and other organs. HCV infection may trigger psoriasis, especially late-onset psoriasis, possibly via overproduction of TNF-α, a common mediator of the two conditions.