AMSTERDAM (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS)Older psoriasis patients have an increased risk of advanced hepatic fibrosis even if they have mild skin disease that has never required systemic therapy.

This finding from the Rotterdam Study raises a red flag: “It could be suggested to screen for liver fibrosis … before and during potentially hepatotoxic therapies in psoriasis patients, especially in those with metabolic syndrome,” Dr. Ella van der Voort said in presenting the study findings at the annual congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

The Rotterdam Study is an ongoing large, prospective, population-based cohort study which began in 1998. Routine liver screening by FibroScan was incorporated into the study protocol in 2011. The proprietary FibroScan transient elastography device is noninvasive and yields results in 5 minutes, explained Dr. van der Voort, a dermatologist at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

In her analysis, Dr. van der Voort reported on 1,535 Rotterdam Study participants with FibroScan results, including 75 with psoriasis. The mean age was 71 years, both in the psoriasis patients and the 1,461 nonpsoriatic controls. The psoriasis patients had mild skin disease, with a mean Psoriasis Area and Severity Index score of 2.0. None of the psoriasis patients had ever received methotrexate or any other systemic therapy for their psoriasis.

The prevalence of advanced liver fibrosis was 3.6% in controls and 8.1% in the psoriasis patients. In a multivariate analysis adjusted for alcohol consumption, alanine aminotransferase levels, steatosis, metabolic syndrome, age, and gender, psoriasis was independently associated with a 2.6-fold increased risk of advanced liver fibrosis.

Among the subgroup of subjects with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), psoriasis was associated with an even greater likelihood of advanced hepatic fibrosis. This liver finding was present in 15% of 20 patients with mild psoriasis and NAFLD, compared with 4% of 375 nonpsoriatic controls with NAFLD, for an adjusted 4.1-fold increased risk among the group with psoriasis.

Psoriasis patients with advanced liver fibrosis had a relatively high prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, so hepatic screening efforts could be focused on this subgroup, in Dr. van der Voort’s view.

In contrast, serum ALTs were generally within normal range in affected patients. “Using elevated ALTs to trigger screening for liver fibrosis in psoriasis patients is not good advice,” she cautioned.

Citing the advanced age of the Rotterdam Study cohort, Dr. van der Voort noted that her study findings may not be applicable to younger patients with mild psoriasis.

Dr. van der Voort presented another analysis from the Rotterdam Study at the 2013 EADV Congress in Istanbul. In that analysis, she reported that psoriasis was independently associated with a 70% increased risk of NAFLD. Since patients with NAFLD are at increased risk for progression to fibrosis and cirrhosis, the new finding of a 2.6-fold increased risk for advanced liver fibrosis in psoriasis patients doesn’t come as a total surprise. The biggest concern, of course, is that advanced liver fibrosis is, in turn, associated with an increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma.

The Rotterdam Study is funded by Dutch governmental grants and foundations. Dr. van der Voort reported having no financial conflicts.


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