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Psoriasis vulgaris and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are inter-related heritable diseases. Psoriatic skin is characterized by hyperproliferative, poorly differentiated keratinocytes and severe inflammation. Psoriatic joints are characterized by highly inflamed synovia and entheses with focal erosions of cartilage and bone. Genetic analyses have uncovered risk factors shared by both psoriasis and PsA. Predisposition to psoriasis and PsA arising from common variation is most strongly conferred by the HLA class I region. Other genetic risk factors implicate the interleukin (IL)-23 pathway and the induction and regulation of type 17 T-helper cells in the pathogenesis of both diseases. Secretion of cytokines, such as IL-22 and IL-17, could result in the hyperproliferative phenotype of keratinocytes and potentially synoviocytes, leading to a vicious cycle of cellular proliferation and inflammation in both the skin and joints. In synovial tissue, disease-related cytokines could also promote osteoclast formation, resulting in bone erosion. The next step will be to identify genetic risk factors specifically associated with PsA. Although therapies that target tumor necrosis factor are often highly successful in the treatment of both diseases, genetic findings are likely to lead to the development of treatments tailored to an individual's genetic profile.PubMed was searched in September 2008 with the following keywords, alone and in combination: “psoriasis”, “psoriatic arthritis” and “genetics”. The search was restricted to English-language full papers. The reference list was updated in November 2008.