Treatment with biologic therapy significantly improves coronary plaque profiles in patients with severe psoriasis, based on data from 121 adult patients who completed a year of follow-up.
A previous study showed a reduced rate of nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, and cardiovascular death among individuals treated with biologic therapies, wrote Youssef A. Elnabawi, MD, of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Bethesda, Md., and his colleagues.
Psoriasis “provides a reliable model to study inflammatory atherogenesis and the longitudinal impact of modulating specific cytokines on vascular behavior, while treating the primary skin disease with [Food and Drug Administration]–approved biologic therapies,” the researchers said.
In a study published in Cardiovascular Research, patients given biologics showed a 5% reduction in total coronary plaque burden after 1 year, as well as a 64% improvement in Psoriasis Area Severity Index scores. In addition, the decrease in noncalcified plaque burden in the biologics group was significantly greater, compared with the nonbiologics group (P =.03), and remained significant after controlling for standard cardiovascular risk factors.
When broken down by biologic, “we observed the greatest percent reduction of noncalcified plaque burden in patients on [anti-interleukin (IL)–17] therapy with a reduction in necrotic core suggesting a potential role for IL-17 in atherosclerotic pathways,” Dr. Elnabawi and his colleagues wrote.
(from 2.0 mg/dL to 1.4 mg/dL), but no change in the nonbiologics group.
The study population included patients naive to biologic or systemic psoriasis therapies who were assessed via clinical and laboratory data and coronary computed tomography angiography at baseline and after 1 year. A total of 89 participants with moderate to severe psoriasis received biologics, including adalimumab, etanercept, ustekinumab, secukinumab, and ixekizumab; 32 psoriasis patients received no biologics and served as a reference group. The average age of the patients was 50 years, and 58% were male. At baseline, patients had low cardiovascular risk based on Framingham scores, and moderate to severe skin disease.
The findings were limited by several factors, including the observational nature of the study, small study population, and the open-label use of biologics, as well as the use of coronary indices, rather than actual cardiovascular events, to assess cardiovascular disease risk, the researchers noted.
However, the results, combined with results from previous studies in animal models, “support further investigation of IL-17 blockade on coronary disease in humans,” they said.
The study was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, with additional support from the National Institutes of Health Medical Research Scholars Program, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the American Association for Dental Research, the Colgate-Palmolive Company, Genentech, Elsevier, and other private donors. Dr. Elnabawi had no financial conflicts to disclose.
SOURCE: Elnabawi YA et al. Cardiovasc Res. 2019. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvz009.