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The impact of topical Saint John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) treatment on tissue tumor necrosis factor-alpha levels in plaque-type psoriasis: A pilot study


1 Skin and Stem Cell Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
2 Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Islamic Azad University, Pharmaceutical Sciences Branch, Tehran, Iran
3 Department of Pharmacology, Islamic Azad University, Pharmaceutical Sciences Branch, Tehran, Iran
4 Department of Dermatopathology, Razi Skin Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
5 Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Islamic Azad University, Pharmaceutical Sciences Branch, Tehran, Iran

Correspondence Address:
F Hashemian,
Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Islamic Azad University, Pharmaceutical Sciences Branch, Tehran
Iran
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Context: Psoriasis is an inflammatory disorder, formed by inappropriate interaction of T lymphocytes with keratinocytes, and consequent eruption of immune responses. High concentrations of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα) are found in the skin lesions and plasma of patients with psoriasis. Hypericum perforatum, a phytomedicine that has both anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative properties, has been recently reported to be clinically helpful for improvement of psoriatic lesions. Aims: The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of topical H. perforatum on TNFα levels in psoriatic lesions for possible identification of the mechanism by which Hypericum reduces inflammation and modulates the disease in patients with plaque-type psoriasis. Settings and Design: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, pilot study with intraindividual comparison was conducted on twenty patients with mild to moderate plaque-type psoriasis. Subjects and Methods: TNFα levels in tissue samples were measured with immunohistochemistry method. Moreover, Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI) scores and histological and clinical changes were investigated after topical application of Hypericum extract. Statistical Analysis Used: The Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to evaluate the possible differences between the drug and placebo group. Results: TNFα concentrations in dermis (p=0.025), endothelial cells (p=0.033), and dendrite cells (p=0.014) were significantly reduced in lesions treated with drug and the reduction observed in epidermis was superior to placebo (p=0.046). Results of PASI scores showed that erythema, scaling, and thickness were significantly lower where the ointment had been applied compared to application of placebo (p=0.014, p=0.004, p=0.003, respectively). Moreover, significant improvement in clinical and histological features of treated lesions in comparison with untreated lesions was observed (p < 0.05). Conclusions: H. perforatum ointment can help decrease PASI scores and TNFα levels in psoriatic tissue. Its efficacy is probably related to its effect on lowering cytokines including TNFα.


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Online since 12th February '04
2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow