Background: Psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory disease affecting 2–3% of the population, is characterised by epidermal hyperplasia, a sustained pro-inflammatory immune response and is primarily a T-cell driven disease. Previous work determined that Connexin26 is upregulated in psoriatic tissue. This study extends these findings. Methods: Biopsies spanning psoriatic plaque (PP) and non-involved tissue (PN) were compared to normal controls (NN). RNA was isolated and subject to real-time PCR to determine gene expression profiles, including GJB2/CX26, GJB6/CX30 and GJA1/CX43. Protein expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry. Keratinocytes and fibroblasts were isolated and used in 3D organotypic models. The pro-inflammatory status of fibroblasts and 3D cultures was assessed via ELISA and RnD cytokine arrays in the presence or absence of the connexin channel blocker Gap27. Results: Connexin26 expression is dramatically enhanced at both transcriptional and translational level in PP and PN tissue compared to NN (>100x). In contrast, CX43 gene expression is not affected, but the protein is post-translationally modified and accumulates in psoriatic tissue. Fibroblasts isolated from psoriatic patients had a higher inflammatory index than normal fibroblasts and drove normal keratinocytes to adopt a “psoriatic phenotype” in a 3D-organotypic model. Exposure of normal fibroblasts to the pro-inflammatory mediator peptidoglycan, isolated from Staphylococcus aureus enhanced cytokine release, an event protected by Gap27. Conclusion: dysregulation of the connexin26:43 expression profile in psoriatic tissue contributes to an imbalance of cellular events. Inhibition of connexin signalling reduces pro-inflammatory events and may hold therapeutic benefit.
- psoriasis; epidermis; connexin26; connexin43; gap junction; hemichannels; connexin mimetic peptide