The association of sore throat and psoriasis might be explained by histologically distinctive tonsils and increased expression of skin-homing molecules by tonsil T cells


Correspondence: A. Johnston, Department of Dermatology, University of Michigan, Medical Science Building I, Room 6427, 1301 Catherine Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5675, USA.



Recent studies have highlighted the involvement of the palatine tonsils in the pathogenesis of psoriasis, particularly among patients with recurrent throat infections. However, the underlying immunological mechanism is not well understood. In this study we confirm that psoriasis tonsils are infected more frequently by β-haemolytic Streptococci, in particular Group C Streptococcus, compared with recurrently infected tonsils from patients without skin disease. Moreover, we show that tonsils from psoriasis patients contained smaller lymphoid follicles that occupied a smaller tissue area, had a lower germinal centre to marginal zone area ratio and contained fewer tingible body macrophages per unit area compared with recurrently infected tonsils from individuals without skin disease. Psoriasis patients' tonsils had a higher frequency of skin-homing [cutaneous lymphocyte-associated antigen (CLA+)] CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, and this correlated significantly with their frequency of blood CLA+ T cells. The psoriasis patients also had a higher frequency of tonsil T cells expressing the interleukin (IL)-23 receptor that was expressed preferentially by the CLA+ T cell population. In contrast, recurrently infected tonsils of individuals without skin disease had a higher frequency of tonsil T cells expressing the activation marker CD69 and a number of chemokine receptors with unknown relevance to psoriasis. These findings suggest that immune responses in the palatine tonsils of psoriasis patients are dysregulated. The elevated expression of CLA and IL-23 receptor by tonsil T cells may promote the egression of effector T cells from tonsils to the epidermis, suggesting that there may be functional changes within the tonsils, which promote triggering or exacerbation of psoriasis.