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Study finds common fatty acid enhances temperature, pain sensitivity in psoriasis plaques

Washington: fatty acids have been widely researched for their role in health and disease. According to a recent study published in JID Innovationsa common fatty acid prevalent in the western diet breaks down into chemicals that contribute to enhanced temperature and pain sensitivity in psoriatic lesions but not itch sensitivity.

The finding could lead to a better understanding of how lipids communicate with sensory neurons, and potentially to improved pain and sensitivity treatments for psoriasis patients. Linoleic acid is a fatty acid found in vegetable oilsnuts and seeds, and is one of the predominant fatty acids found in the Western diet.

Metabolites from linoleic acid – the products formed when the body breaks it down through digestion – play a role in skin barrier function. “We noticed high levels of two types of lipids derived from linoleic acid in psoriatic lesions,” said Santosh Mishraassociate professor of neuroscience at North Carolina State University and corresponding author of the research.

“That led us to wonder whether the lipids might affect how sensory neurons in these lesions communicate. We decided to investigate whether their presence could be related to the temperature or pain hypersensitivity that many psoriasis patients report.” The research team used mass spectrometry to create lipid profiles of skin from psoriatic lesions.

They focused on two types of linoleic acid-derived lipids, or oxylipids: 13-hydroxy-9,10-epoxy octadecenoate (9,13-EHL) and 9,10,13-trihydroxy-octadecenoate (9,10,13-THL ). The first form, 9,13-EHL, can convert into the more stable 9,10,13-THL form via interaction with certain enzymes. The researchers found that while both forms bind to receptors on sensory neurons within the skin, the more stable form – 9,10,13-THL – had a longer lasting effect than 9,13-EHL.

They also found that once the lipids bind to the neuronal receptor, they activate the neurons expressing TRPA1 and TRPV1 receptors that are involved in temperature and pain hypersensitivity, opening communications channels to the central nervous system. Interestingly, the lipids did not have any effect on itching.

“It was surprising that these lipids could create hypersensitivity but not impact itch sensation, which is usually the most troublesome symptom associated with psoriasis,” says Mishra. “This most likely has to do with how the neuron is activated—a mechanism we still haven’t uncovered.”

Now that an association between linoleic acid and hypersensitivity to temperature and pain has been established, the researchers want to further explore exactly how this response is being created. They hope that the answers may lead to solutions that can relieve these symptoms in psoriasis patients.

“We know that this lipid moves from one form to another, but don’t yet know what causes that,” Mishra said.
“We also know what protein the lipids are binding to, but not where the bond occurs. Answering these questions may hopefully lead to new therapies – or dietary solutions – for some psoriasis sufferers.”

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