The emerging role of IL-17 in the pathogenesis of psoriasis: preclinical and clinical findings

J Invest Dermatol. 2013 Jan;133(1):17-26. doi: 10.1038/jid.2012.194. Epub 2012 Jun 7.


Although the histological changes seen in psoriasis have long been well characterized, the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms have only begun to be elucidated over the past 20 years. Proinflammatory factors such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α have a central role in psoriasis pathogenesis, and many T-helper 1 (Th1) cytokines and messenger RNAs are elevated in psoriatic lesions. IL-17A, IL-17F, and other Th17 cell-derived cytokines have been shown in murine models to induce features that mimic human psoriasis. This review focuses on the emerging biology of the IL-17 cytokine family in psoriasis, and on the molecular and genetic information gained from animal models and human clinical studies that confirm IL-17 as a crucial proinflammatory cytokine in psoriasis. Expression of IL-17A, IL-17C, and IL-17F is strikingly increased in psoriatic lesions, and successful therapy is associated with restoration of the expression of a wide range of genes (including effector molecules downstream of IL-17 such as cytokines, chemokines, and antimicrobial peptides) to near-normal levels. Therapeutic agents in development that target IL-17 are discussed, and an emerging model of the key role of IL-17 in the pathogenesis of psoriasis is presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-17 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-17 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-17 / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy
  • Psoriasis / immunology*
  • Transcriptome / drug effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cytokines
  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Interleukin-17