Case Reports

Clearance of Psoriasis After Ischemic Stroke

Ms. Lee is from the John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu. Ms. Reynolds is from the College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Ohio. Ms. Pithadia is from the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta University. Dr. Thiyanaratnam is from the Department of Dermatology, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, California. Dr. Wu is from the Dermatology Research and Education Foundation, Irvine, California.

Ms. Lee, Ms. Reynolds, Ms. Pithadia, and Dr. Thiyanaratnam report no conflict of interest. Dr. Wu is an investigator for AbbVie; Amgen Inc; Eli Lilly & Company; Janssen Biotech, Inc; and Novartis. He also is consultant for Almirall, SA; Amgen Inc; Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; Dermira, Inc; Dr. Reddy's Laboratories Ltd; Eli Lilly & Company; Janssen Biotech, Inc; LEO Pharma Inc; and Promius Pharma. He also is a consultant and speaker for AbbVie; Celgene Corporation; Novartis; Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc; Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd; UCB, Inc; and Valeant Pharmaceuticals North America LLC.

Correspondence: Jashin J. Wu, MD (

The role of the nervous system in the pathogenesis of psoriasis is not well elucidated. However, its involvement is clinically apparent with sparing of areas affected by neurologic disease, such as poliomyelitis, and remission of psoriasis in cases of nerve damage. Several neuropeptides, including substance P (SP), nerve growth factor, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and vasoactive intestinal peptide have been hypothesized to play a part in the development of psoriasis and its symptoms. We report a case of a patient with psoriasis who experienced complete remission following ischemic stroke.

Practice Points

  • Psoriasis is exacerbated in the presence of stress, and psoriatic lesions often have a symmetric distribution, which is evidence that the nervous system is involved in the pathophysiology of the condition.
  • Various neuropeptides are involved in the pathophysiology of psoriasis, including substance P, nerve growth factor, calcitonin gene-related peptide, and vasoactive intestinal peptide.
  • Peripheral nerve damage results in decreased secretion of neuropeptides, which can lead to remission of psoriasis.



The etiology of psoriasis is multifactorial, and it is attributed to both genetic and environmental components.1 One of the lesser-studied aspects of psoriasis pathogenesis is the involvement of the nervous system. It is thought that the pathogenesis involves inflammation of the cutaneous nerves,2 and cutaneous denervation has been shown to improve acanthosis and IL-23 expression in mice with psoriasiform skin.3 There also have been reports of psoriasis remission following peripheral and central nervous system injury from surgical nerve resection4 as well as cerebrovascular accident.5 We present a case of total psoriasis clearance following ischemic stroke.

Case Report

A 52-year-old man with psoriasis presented to the dermatology clinic for follow-up. The patient had been using topical clobetasol and apremilast with limited success but had not previously tried biologics. On physical examination he was noted to have erythematous, scaly, indurated papules and plaques on the chest, abdomen, back, arms, and legs, consistent with psoriasis. Affected body surface area was approximately 10%. Ustekinumab was prescribed, but the patient did not pick it up from the pharmacy.

Approximately 1 month later, the patient presented to the emergency department with left-sided weakness and numbness. He was hospitalized for treatment of stroke. During hospitalization, the patient was started on lisinopril, aspirin, and atorvastatin. He also was given subcutaneous enoxaparin with plans to initiate warfarin as an outpatient. His psoriasis was not treated with topical or systemic medications during the course of his admission. He was discharged to a skilled nursing facility after 3 days.

Three months following discharge, the patient returned to the dermatology clinic for follow-up. After his stroke, he reported that his psoriasis had cleared and had not returned. On physical examination his skin was clear of psoriatic lesions.


The nervous system is thought to play an important role in the pathophysiology of psoriasis. Evidence for this involvement includes the exacerbation of psoriasis with stress and the often symmetric distribution of psoriatic lesions.6

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