Dermatology Book


Acne Vulgaris Pathophysiology

Aka: Acne Vulgaris Pathophysiology
  1. See Also
    1. Acne Vulgaris
    2. Acne Vulgaris Management
    3. Adjunctive Acne Vulgaris Management
    4. Moderate Acne Vulgaris Management
    5. Severe Acne Vulgaris Management (includes Cystic Acne)
  2. Pathophysiology: Overview
    1. Acne Progression (4 step process)
      1. Androgen Mediated Sebum Production
      2. Keratinous Obstruction of sebaceous follicle outlet (Results in formation of comedones)
      3. Bacterial Colonization of trapped sebum (with Cutebacterium acnes, previously Propionibacterium acnes)
      4. Inflammatory reaction (Papules, Nodules and cysts)
    2. Images
      1. dermHairFollicleGrayBB944.gifLewis (1918) Gray's Anatomy 20th ed (in public domain at Yahoo or BartleBy)
  3. Pathophysiology: Androgen Mediated Sebum Production
    1. Causes
      1. Adrogen-mediated sebum over-production
      2. Increased Sebaceous Gland sensitivity to normal androgen levels
    2. Sebum composition
      1. Triglycerides
      2. Cholesterol esters
      3. Waxes
      4. Fatty Acids
    3. Sebum Effects
      1. Drains to skin surface via pilosebaceous canal
      2. Excellent growth medium for Cutebacterium acnes (previously Propionibacterium acnes)
  4. Pathophysiology: Keratinous Obstruction of sebaceous follicle outlet
    1. Abnormal follicular epithelium shedding
    2. Pre-Puberty Sebaceous follicles
      1. Lobulated glands empty into pilosebaceous canal
      2. Follicles most dense on face, back and chest
      3. Inactive until Puberty
    3. Post-Puberty Sebaceous follicles
      1. Androgen production increases
      2. Stimulates sebaceous follicles to secrete sebum
  5. Pathophysiology: Comedones form from keratin and sebum collection
    1. Open Comedones (Black heads)
      1. Combination of sebum and keratin
      2. Melanin gives them the black color
      3. Seldom become inflamed
    2. Closed Comedones (White heads)
      1. Do not communicate with the skin surface
      2. Block pilosebaceous canal
      3. Encourage Anaerobic Bacteria to grow
      4. Propionibacterium acnes fuels inflammatory process
        1. Lipase secretion lyses Triglycerides
        2. Free Fatty Acids fuel local irritation
      5. Closed comedones progress to inflammatory lesions
  6. Pathophysiology: Bacterial Colonization of trapped sebum
    1. Cutebacterium acnes (previously Propionibacterium acnes) Bacteria colonizes sebum
    2. P. acnes secretes a Lipase that hydrolyzes sebum
      1. Converts Triglycerides into free Fatty Acids
      2. Free Fatty Acids irritate local cells
  7. Pathophysiology: Inflammatory reaction (usually in closed comedones)
    1. Papules
    2. Pustules
    3. Nodules
    4. Cysts
  8. References
    1. James (2005) N Engl J Med 352(14):1463-72 [PubMed]
    2. Oge (2019) Am Fam Physician 100(8): 475-84 [PubMed]
    3. Strauss (2007) J Am Acad Dermatol 56(4): 651-63 [PubMed]
    4. Titus (2012) Am Fam Physician 86(8): 734-40 [PubMed]

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