The pathogenesis of psoriatic arthritis and associated nail disease: not autoimmune after all?

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2009 Jul;21(4):340-7. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0b013e32832c6ab9.


Purpose of review: Both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and by implication psoriatic nail disease, have been considered as autoimmune disorders. This was based on the assumption that T-cell-directed responses against common skin and synovial antigens led to shared immunopathological mechanisms at these different sites, which was indirectly supported by the human leucocyte antigen-Cw6 disease association. This study draws on recent microanatomical and genetic studies of PsA, psoriasis and psoriatic-associated nail disease to show how the prevailing autoimmunity concepts for psoriatic disease need to be redrawn, especially in the case of joint and nail disease.

Recent findings: Recent microanatomical studies confirm that normal tendon and ligament insertion points to bone (entheses), the key territory for the inflammatory reaction associated with PsA, being subject to microdamage that strongly points to a role for microtrauma in the joints, which is reminiscent of Koebner responses in the skin. Furthermore, the nail is functionally integrated with entheses associated with the distal phalanx that provides anchorage to the skin and joint. Although type 1 psoriasis is strongly linked to the human leucocyte antigen-Cw6, recent genetic studies have suggested that both joint and nail disease do not share this association.

Summary: These microanatomical and genetic insights have important implications for a better understanding of PsA and nail disease and for an improved understanding of the psoriatic disease spectrum.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Psoriatic / etiology*
  • Arthritis, Psoriatic / immunology
  • Arthritis, Psoriatic / pathology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / physiopathology
  • Autoimmunity / immunology
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Ligaments / immunology
  • Ligaments / pathology
  • Ligaments / physiopathology
  • Nail Diseases / etiology*
  • Nail Diseases / immunology
  • Nail Diseases / pathology
  • Nails / immunology
  • Nails / pathology*
  • Nails / physiopathology
  • Spine / immunology
  • Spine / pathology*
  • Spine / physiopathology
  • Tendons / immunology
  • Tendons / pathology
  • Tendons / physiopathology
  • Zygapophyseal Joint / immunology
  • Zygapophyseal Joint / pathology
  • Zygapophyseal Joint / physiopathology