PCOS is characterized by androgen elevation that can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, which have also been associated with an increased risk of psoriasis. Previous retrospective analyses have suggested an increased risk of psoriasis associated with PCOS, and psoriasis patients with PCOS have been reported to have more severe skin lesions, compared with those who do not have PCOS.
“The incidence of psoriasis is indeed higher in the PCOS group than in the control group, and the comorbidities related to metabolic syndrome did not modify the adjusted hazard ratio,” said Ming-Li Chen, during her presentation of the study results at the virtual annual meeting of the Group for Research and Assessment of Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis. Dr. Chen is at Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan.
The researchers analyzed 1 million randomly selected records from Taiwan’s Longitudinal Health Insurance database, a subset of the country’s National Health Insurance Program. Between 2000 and 2012, they identified a case group with at least three outpatient diagnoses or one inpatient diagnosis of PCOS; they then compared each with four patients who did not have PCOS who were matched by age and index year. The mean age in both groups was about 27 years.
The mean follow-up times were 6.99 years for 4,707 cases and 6.94 years for 18,828 controls. Comorbidities were slightly higher in the PCOS group, including asthma (6.7% vs. 4.9%; P less than .001), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (14% vs. 11%; P less than .001), chronic liver disease (8.0% vs. 5.0%; P less than .001), diabetes mellitus (3.0% vs. 1.4%; P less than .001), hypertension (2.4% vs. 1.5%; P less than .001), hyperlipidemia (5.4% vs. 2.5%; P less than .001), depression (5.4% vs. 3.9%; P less than .001), and sleep apnea (0.23% vs. 0.10%; P = .040).
There was a higher cumulative incidence of psoriasis in the PCOS group (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.07; 95% confidence interval, 1.25-3.44). Other factors associated with increased risk of psoriasis were advanced age (greater than 50 years old; aHR, 14.13; 95% CI, 1.8-110.7) and having a cancer diagnosis (aHR, 11.72; 95% CI, 2.87-47.9).
When PCOS patients were stratified by age, the researchers noted a higher risk of psoriasis among those 20 years or younger (aHR, 4.02; 95% CI, 1.16-13.9) than among those aged 20-50 years (aHR, 1.88; 95% CI, 1.07-3.29). Among those older than 50 years, there was no significantly increased risk, although the number of psoriasis diagnoses and population sizes were small in the latter category. Among patients with PCOS, a cancer diagnosis was not associated with a statistically significant increased risk of psoriasis.
The mechanisms underlying the association between PCOS and psoriasis should be studied further, she noted.
Following Dr. Chen’s prerecorded presentation, there was a live discussion session led by, medical director of Mount Sinai Beth Israel Dermatology, New York, and , associate professor of rheumatology at the University of Molise (Italy). Dr. Gottlieb noted that the study did not appear to account for weight in the association between PCOS and psoriasis, since heavier people are known to be at greater risk of developing psoriasis. Dr. Chen acknowledged that the study had no records of BMI or weight.
Dr. Gottlieb also wondered if treatment of PCOS led to any improvements in psoriasis in patients with the two diagnoses. “If we treat PCOS, does the psoriasis get better?” Again, the study did not address the question. “We didn’t follow up on therapies,” Dr. Chen said.
Dr. Chen reported no relevant financial disclosures. Dr. Gottlieb is a consultant, advisory board member and/or speaker for AbbVie, Allergan, Avotres Therapeutics, Beiersdorf, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Celgene, Dermira, Eli Lilly, Incyte, Janssen, Leo, Novartis, Reddy Labs, Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, UCB Pharma and Xbiotech. She has received research or educational grants from Boehringer Ingelheim, Incyte, Janssen, Novartis and Xbiotech.