Pathophysiology of Generalized Pustular Psoriasis

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2022 Jan;23(Suppl 1):13-19. doi: 10.1007/s40257-021-00655-y. Epub 2022 Jan 21.


Generalized pustular psoriasis (GPP) is a rare, severe form of pustular psoriasis characterized by widespread, recurrent episodes of neutrophil-rich pustule formation in the epidermis, which can be accompanied by fever and systemic inflammation. Recent clinical, histologic, and genetic evidence indicates that GPP is a distinct entity from plaque psoriasis, with different cytokine pathways predominant in the manifestation of each disease. The interleukin-36 (IL-36) signaling cascade plays a key role in regulating the innate immune system, and its dysregulation appears central to the pathogenesis of GPP. The altered expression of various IL-36 pathway constituents has been shown to cause a positive feedback loop of uncontrolled signaling and excess production of inflammatory cytokines, which in turn leads to chemokine induction and neutrophil recruitment in the epidermis. Given the potentially life-threatening nature of GPP episodes, drug interventions that rapidly achieve disease resolution are required. Early phase data indicate that treatments targeting various components of the IL-36 inflammatory cascade represent promising areas of research. However, there are currently no therapeutic agents specifically approved for GPP in the USA or Europe. Understanding the inflammatory pathways, associated risk factors, and role of neutrophils in the manifestation and perpetuation of GPP flares remains a key goal in developing effective therapeutics. In this article, we summarize the current understanding of GPP, describe novel therapeutic opportunities, and detail how the unique pathophysiology of the disease may inform future treatment strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy
  • Psoriasis / immunology*
  • Psoriasis / physiopathology*
  • Skin Diseases, Vesiculobullous / drug therapy
  • Skin Diseases, Vesiculobullous / immunology*
  • Skin Diseases, Vesiculobullous / physiopathology*


  • Cytokines