GIESSEN, GERMANY. Psoriasis is a fairly common skin disease characterized by thick, silvery white scales surrounded by a red, inflamed border. Psoriasis is accompanied by high concentrations of arachidonic acid in the plaques and profound changes in the metabolism of eicosanoids leading to an increase in proinflammatory agents. It is known that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) counteracts the formation of these proinflammatory agents and some studies have shown that oral supplementation with fish oils benefits psoriasis patients.
A team of researchers from Austria, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Germany, and Poland now report that intravenous infusions of a fish oil emulsion is quite effective in ameliorating the symptoms of chronic plaque-type psoriasis. Their double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial involved 54 men and 29 women between the ages of 18 and 80 years who had been hospitalized with severe psoriasis. The patients were randomized into two groups. Group 1 (43 patients) received twice daily infusions of a fish oil emulsion (100 ml of a 10% emulsion infused over a period of 90 minutes) while group 2 (40 patients) received twice daily infusions of a placebo emulsion based on linoleic acid. The severity of the psoriasis was assessed by physicians on days 0, 4, 7, 11 and 15 of the two-week trial. Sixteen of the 43 patients (37%) receiving fish oil showed at least a 50% improvement in their condition at the end of the trial as compared to 9 out of 40 patients (23%) in the placebo group.
The researchers conclude that intravenous administration of a fish oil emulsion is safe and effective in the treatment of chronic plaque-type psoriasis and plan further work to determine if once daily infusions would be equally effective.
Mayser, Peter, et al. Omega-3 fatty acid-based lipid infusion in patients with chronic plaque psoriasis: results of a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. 38, April 1998, pp. 539-47