Unique keratinization process in psoriasis: late differentiation markers are abolished because of the premature cell death

J Dermatol. 2004 Apr;31(4):271-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1346-8138.2004.tb00672.x.


The keratinization process in psoriasis is a unique phenomenon. We have proposed an organized system for keratinization in psoriasis based on the recognition of early and late differentiation markers combined with premature cell death. The early differentiation markers, such as involucrin, small proline-rich proteins (SPRR), cystatin A and transglutaminase l, are more conspicuously expressed in psoriasis, while the late differentiation markers, such as profilaggrin and loricrin, are abolished. Keratinization markers that are not observed in the normal epidermis are also detected; these include SKALP/elafin as well as K6 and K16. With a markedly diminished turnover time, the psoriatic epidermis rapidly synthesizes differentiation markers that are mostly under the control of the protein kinase C-AP1 transcriptional control system. Because of the premature cell death, however, the late differentiation markers are not expressed. During the improvement of the lesion and the therefore longer turnover time, the late differentiation markers rapidly catch up to reveal their expression. This explains the rapid appearance of keratohyalin granules (profilaggrin) in the healing lesion of psoriasis. Thus the keratinization process in psoriasis can be explained by the accelerated keratinization combined with premature cell death. The keratinization process in psoriasis is unique, because both accelerated keratinization and premature cell death co-exist, resulting in the disappearance of late differentiation markers such as profilaggrin and loricrin. It is interesting to note that the premature cell death is also under the control of protein kinase C signaling.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis*
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology*
  • Keratinocytes / physiology
  • Membrane Proteins / physiology*
  • Psoriasis / physiopathology*


  • Membrane Proteins