Inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis: modernizing the multidisciplinary approach

J Intern Med. 2021 Aug;290(2):257-278. doi: 10.1111/joim.13282. Epub 2021 May 4.

C R H Hedin 1 2, E Sonkoly 1 3, M Eberhardson 1 4, M Ståhle 1 3


Author information

  • 1From the, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Solna, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • 2Division of Gastroenterology, Medical Unit Gastroenterology, Dermatovenereology and Rheumatology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • 3Division of Dermatology, Medical Unit Gastroenterology, Dermatovenereology and Rheumatology, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.
  • 4Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital in Linkoping, Linkoping, Sweden.


Psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are immune-mediated diseases occurring in barrier organs whose main task is to protect the organism from attack. These disorders are highly prevalent especially in northern Europe where psoriasis has a prevalence of around 3-4% and IBD around 0.3%. The prevalence of IBD in North America has been estimated at around 0.4%. The total incidence rates in northern Europe have been estimated at around 6 for Crohn's disease and 11 for ulcerative colitis per 100 000 person-years, compared with an incidence rate of around 280 per 100 000 person-years for psoriasis. Both diseases are less common in countries with a lower index of development. The rise in IBD appears to occur as populations adopt a westernized lifestyle, whereas psoriasis seems more stable and prevalence differences may derive more from variation in genetic susceptibility. The gut microbiota is clearly an important driver of IBD pathogenesis; in psoriasis, changes in gut and skin microbiota have been reported, but it is less clear whether and how these changes contribute to the pathogenesis. Large studies show that most identified genes are involved in the immune system. However, psoriasis and IBD are highly heterogeneous diseases and there is a need for more precise and deeper phenotyping to identify specific subgroups and their genetic, epigenetic and molecular signatures. Epigenetic modifications of DNA such as histone modifications, noncoding RNA effects on transcription and translation and DNA methylation are increasingly recognized as the mechanism underpinning much of the gene-environment interaction in the pathogenesis of both IBD and psoriasis. Our understanding of underlying pathogenetic mechanisms has deepened fundamentally over the past decades developing hand in hand with novel therapies targeting pathways and proinflammatory cytokines incriminated in disease. There is not only substantial overlap between psoriasis and IBD, but also there are differences with implication for therapy. In psoriasis, drugs targeting interleukin-23 and interleukin-17 have shown superior efficacy compared with anti-TNFs, whilst in IBD, drugs targeting interleukin-17 may be less beneficial. The therapeutic toolbox for psoriasis is impressive and is enlarging also for IBD. Still, there are unmet needs reflecting the heterogeneity of both diseases and there is a need for closer molecular diagnostics to allow for the development of precise therapeutics.

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