Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) have a high rate of comorbid psoriasis compared with patients without MS, and this increased incidence may be related to interferon beta exposure during treatment for MS, according data published in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.

Researchers from Israel conducted a case-control study that included 214 consecutive patients with MS and 192 consecutive patients without MS who presented with headache.

Nine of 214 MS patients were diagnosed with plaque psoriasis compared with only one of the 192 patients with headache (P = 0.021, OR = 8.39, 95% CI = 1.05–66.81). Plaque psoriasis was the only type of psoriasis detected among the study participants.

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Men and women in the study reported similar prevalence: six psoriasis cases among 143 female MS patients (4.20%) and three psoriasis cases among 71 male patients (4.22%). None of the nine patients with both MS and psoriasis were among the 22 MS patients with primary progressive disease, according to the study data.

Six of those nine patients started interferon-beta treatment after being diagnosed with MS, and four of the patients experienced exacerbation of psoriasis during exposure to interferon-beta. There was no exacerbation in the comorbid patients during treatment with other disease-modifying drugs. The researchers noted that those six patients with both MS and psoriasis had onset of psoriasis before that of MS.

The study results add to previous data that support an association between MS with autoimmune diseases and supports the hypothesis of autoimmune pathogenesis for MS, according to the researchers.

“The current findings should raise the level of awareness of psoriasis among patients with MS, and of the need to consider a potential exacerbation of psoriasis by interferon-beta therapy,” they concluded.


  1. Fellner A. J Neurol Sci. 2014; doi:10.1016/j.jns.2014.01.003.