High-Fat Diet Exacerbates Early Psoriatic Skin Inflammation Independent of Obesity: Saturated Fatty Acids as Key Players

J Invest Dermatol. 2018 Sep;138(9):1999-2009. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2018.03.1522. Epub 2018 Mar 30.


In obesity, hypertrophic adipocytes secrete high amounts of adipocytokines, resulting in low-grade inflammation amplified by infiltrating proinflammatory macrophages, oxidative stress, hypoxia, and lipolysis. These chronic proinflammatory conditions support the development of type II diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, but the mechanisms of obesity-related exacerbation of inflammatory skin disorders like psoriasis are unclear. In this study, we uncovered dietary saturated fatty acids (SFAs) as major risk factors for the amplification of skin inflammation, independent of obesity-related parameters such as fat mass extension, adipocytokine levels, and glucose homeostasis. Correlation analyses in a cohort of psoriasis vulgaris patients showed that free fatty acid serum level was the only obesity-associated parameter affecting disease severity. Studies in mice with high-fat diet-induced obesity with psoriasiform inflammation confirmed this critical role of free fatty acids. An increase of free fatty acids in healthy, lean mice alone was sufficient to induce an exacerbation of psoriasiform inflammation. In particular, saturated fatty acids sensitize myeloid cells to an increased inflammatory response in answer to proinflammatory stimuli, which in turn augments the activation of keratinocytes. Consequently, reduction of nutritional saturated fatty acids alone diminished the psoriatic phenotype in obese mice. Thus, our findings may open new perspectives for adjuvant dietary measures accompanying anti-inflammatory psoriasis therapies in lean and obese patients.

Keywords: FFA; HFD; PUFA; SFA; free fatty acid; high-fat diet; polyunsaturated fatty acid; saturated fatty acid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fatty Acids / adverse effects*
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Psoriasis / etiology*
  • Psoriasis / metabolism
  • Risk Factors


  • Fatty Acids