Pustular psoriasis: Molecular pathways and effects of spesolimab in generalized pustular psoriasis

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2022 Apr;149(4):1402-1412. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2021.09.035. Epub 2021 Oct 20.


Background: The IL-36 pathway plays a key role in the pathogenesis of generalized pustular psoriasis (GPP). In a proof-of-concept clinical trial, treatment with spesolimab, an anti-IL-36 receptor antibody, resulted in rapid skin and pustular clearance in patients presenting with GPP flares.

Objective: We sought to compare the molecular profiles of lesional and nonlesional skin from patients with GPP or palmoplantar pustulosis (PPP) with skin from healthy volunteers, and to investigate the molecular changes after spesolimab treatment in the skin and blood of patients with GPP flares.

Methods: Pre- and post-treatment skin and blood samples were collected from patients with GPP who participated in a single-arm, phase I study (n = 7). Skin biopsies from patients with PPP (n = 8) and healthy volunteers (n = 16) were obtained for comparison at baseline. Biomarkers were assessed by RNA-sequencing, histopathology, and immunohistochemistry.

Results: In GPP and PPP lesions, 1287 transcripts were commonly upregulated or downregulated. Selected transcripts from the IL-36 signaling pathway were upregulated in untreated GPP and PPP lesions. In patients with GPP, IL-36 pathway-related signatures, TH1/TH17 and innate inflammation signaling, neutrophilic mediators, and keratinocyte-driven inflammation pathways were downregulated by spesolimab as early as week 1. Spesolimab also decreased related serum biomarkers and cell populations in the skin lesions from patients with GPP, including CD3+ T, CD11c+, and IL-36γ+ cells and lipocalin-2-expressing cells.

Conclusions: In patients with GPP, spesolimab showed rapid modulation of commonly dysregulated molecular pathways in GPP and PPP, which may be associated with improved clinical outcomes.

Keywords: BI 655130; GPP; IL-36; IL-36R; PPP; Spesolimab; biomarkers; generalized pustular psoriasis; palmoplantar pustulosis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases*
  • Psoriasis* / metabolism
  • Skin Diseases, Vesiculobullous*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • spesolimab