Role of Skin Stem Cells in Psoriasis and Atopic Dermatitis   

Grantee: George Murphy, Professor, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA

Amount: DKK 3,988,427

This two-year proposal is based on the hypothesis that skin stem cells are critically involved in the pathogenesis of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

In previous work, the three principal investigators have identified a cytokeratin 15-expressing stem cell niche at the tips of epidermal rete ridges, discovered immunomodulatory dermal mesenchymal stem cells, and defined an epigenetic mark that regulates skin stem cell behavior.

During the past year that was funded by the LEO Foundation, we have provided data that supports epidermal stem cell participation in human and experimental psoriasis and begun to probe the genetic and epigenetic underpinnings of this phenomenon.

We now propose to advance these findings to determine mechanistic commonalities in stem cell behavior that may unify the pathogenesis of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Specifically, the proposal focuses on epidermal and dermal stem cells in the context of innovative experimental models, human biospecimens to test relevance, and epigenetic modifiers that may be transformative in normalizing stem cell aberrations responsible for the initiation and propagation of these two prevalent, pernicious, and potentially preventable skin diseases.