Associations between COVID-19 and skin conditions identified through epidemiology and genomic studies

MT Patrick, H Zhang, R Wasikowski, Errol Prens, S Weidinger, JE Gudjonsson, JT Elder, K He, L C Tsoi

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44 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is commonly associated with skin manifestations, and may also exacerbate existing skin diseases, yet the relationship between COVID-19 and skin diseases remains unclear. Objective: By investigating this relationship through a multiomics approach, we sought to ascertain whether patients with skin conditions are more susceptible to COVID-19. Methods: We conducted an epidemiological study and then compared gene expression across 9 different inflammatory skin conditions and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2–infected bronchial epithelial cell lines, and then performed a genome-wide association study transdisease meta-analysis between COVID-19 susceptibility and 2 skin diseases (psoriasis and atopic dermatitis). Results: Skin conditions, including psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, increase the risk of COVID-19 (odds ratio, 1.55; P = 1.4 × 10−9) but decrease the risk of mechanical ventilation (odds ratio, 0.22; P = 8.5 × 10−5). We observed significant overlap in gene expression between the infected normal bronchial epithelial cells and inflammatory skin diseases, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. For genes that are commonly induced in both the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection and skin diseases, there are 4 S100 family members located in the epidermal differentiation complex, and we also identified the “IL-17 signaling pathway” (P = 4.9 × 10−77) as one of the most significantly enriched pathways. Furthermore, a shared genome-wide significant locus in the epidermal differentiation complex was identified between psoriasis and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection, with the lead marker being a significant expression quantitative trait locus for S100A12 (P = 3.3 × 10−7). Conclusions: Together our findings suggest association between inflammatory skin conditions and higher risk of COVID-19, but with less severe course, and highlight shared components involved in anti–COVID-19 immune response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)857-869.e7
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

Research programs

  • EMC OR-01


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