The cytokine IL-22 plays a role in inflammatory changes that contribute to psoriasis, and researchers have identified a new potential therapeutic gene target for psoriasis treatment based on the protein’s role in the skin disease.

Frank O. Nestle, MD, of the St John’s Institute of Dermatology at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London and colleagues injected IL-22 into models of normal human skin in mice and found that the subsequent inflammatory skin changes resembled human psoriasis.

In a computer analysis comparing data from these human skin models with existing gene datasets the presence of IL-22 ‘switched on’ a hub gene known as serine/threonine kinase PIM1, the researchers reported in Science Translational Medicine.

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Injecting an anti–IL-22 monoclonal antibody reduced inflammation in the skin model, strengthening the link between IL-22 cytokine, changes in the PIM1 gene and psoriasis.

“The most exciting part of the study was that detailed analysis of genes induced by IL-22 in skin allowed us to uncover a novel treatment target for this disease. We are hopeful that our research will lead to the development of new approaches for the treatment for this common and irritating skin condition,” the researchers wrote.

The study was significant in that it provided proof of principle, but further clinical trials are necessary to examine the potential new treatment’s effectiveness in humans.


  1. Perera GK. Sci Transl Med. 2014;6, 223ra22.

Disclosure: The study was supported by the Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust and the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR BRC) at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London. See full study for a list of disclosures.