Researchers discover acne could be caused by sudden changes in the composition of the microbiota, along with increased sebum production
Scientists have proposed a new hypothesis for the root cause of acne in teenagers.
Acne is commonly known as a pathological disease, driven by excessive growth and reproduction of skin cells in the hair follicles forming a microcomedone.
However, researchers from the University of Debrecen in Hungary believe it could be a natural, transient inflammatory state that occurs when maturing skin is exposed to new microbes.
Based on immunological and dermatological data, the team found sudden changes in the composition of the microbiota within sebaceous-gland-rich skin (along with increased sebum production) could be an inflammatory response that replaces the former homeostasis host-microbiota crosstalk, leading to acne.
“Instead of considering acne as an accidentally occurring disease accompanied by pathological processes, we propose that acne is unavoidable inflammation precipitated by physiological changes in sebaceous skin during adolescence,” said lead author Andrea Szegedi.
The team cite evidence in mice which showed a short-term encounter with commensal microbes on the skin caused robust production of T lymphocyte white blood cells, producing pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin 17.
Pro-inflammatory cytokine is a type of signalling molecule that is excreted from immune cells that promote inflammation.
Szegedi added: “Our hypothesis, that acne is a naturally developing, transient inflammation state, rather than a pathological skin disease, challenges conventional thinking.
“This hypothesis incorporates recent scientific data and may explain special clinical characteristics of acne.”