Psoriasis Therapy Significantly Reduces Aortic Inflammation


Results from a recent study demonstrated that participants with psoriasis who received ustekinumab (Stelara) experienced a 19% improvement in aortic inflammation compared with those who received placebo, according to Joel M. Gelfand, MD, MSCE. The findings were reported at the American Academy of Dermatology 2018 Annual Meeting.1

“This is the first placebo-controlled trial of a biologic drug to show a benefit in aortic inflammation, a key marker of cardiovascular disease,” Dr Gelfand said. “The effect is similar to what we would expect if we put the patient on a statin.”2

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted by Dr Gelfand and researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. In the study, 21 participants were randomly assigned to received placebo and 22 participants were randomly assigned to receive ustekinumab. Aortic inflammation was measured at baseline and at week 12 using fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (18F-FDG PET/CT) scans.

Overall, participants who received ustekinumab experienced a 6.6% decrease in aortic inflammation whereas participants who received placebo experienced a 12% increase in inflammation.

Additionally, 77% of participants who received ustekinumab experienced improvements in skin inflammation compared with 10.5% of participants who received placebo.

“This study represents promise that this treatment may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in the future. It’s an encouraging finding,” Dr Gelfand concluded.2

—Melissa Weiss


1. Gelfand JM, et al. A phase IV, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study of the effects of ustekinumab on vascular inflammation in psoriasis (The Vip-U Trial). Presented at: American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting; February 16-20, 2018; San Diego, CA.

2. Drug That Treats Psoriasis Also Reduces Aortic Vascular Inflammation [press release]. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; February 16, 2018. Accessed February 21, 2018.