Integrated targeted serum metabolomic profile and its association with gender, age, disease severity, and pattern identification in acne


Kim MH, Ha IJ, Kim E, Kim K




2020 Jan 17;15(1):e0228074.

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Westernized diet and nutritional metabolism are important in acne pathogenesis, especially in adult patients. However, clinical and basic data are lacking. Pattern identification (PI) is a tool that results in a diagnostic conclusion based on a cluster of concurrent symptoms and signs in traditional medicine. Acne can be classified by PI. However, whether the metabolomic profile differs according to the PI of acne is unknown. Metabolomic data would help clarify the pathogenesis of acne.


We conducted a cross-sectional study involving 40 healthy controls and 60 subjects with acne. We evaluated androgens, serum lipids, essential amino acids, nonessential amino acids, other amino acids, and pro-inflammatory cytokines of all subjects and compared the metabolomic profiles between acne subjects and healthy controls, and in subgroups according to gender, age, severity, and PI.


Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and serum fatty acids were significantly higher in female subjects, adolescents, and those with disharmony of the thoroughfare and conception vessels. The total essential and nonessential amino acids were significantly lower in the overall, female, adult, severe, and phlegm-stasis group. The latter group exhibited elevated serum levels of interleukin-1β and -6.


This is the first study to investigate serum lipids, amino acids, and cytokines in subjects with acne. We analyzed the differences between metabolomic profiles to determine the diagnostic value of PI. Prospective studies with more patients are needed to confirm the characteristics of each PI and lipidomic data will enrich knowledge concerning lipid mechanism.

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