The therapeutic effect of evening primrose oil in atopic dermatitis patients with dry scaly skin lesions is associated with the normalization of serum gamma-interferon levels

Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. Jan-Feb 2002;15(1):20-5. doi: 10.1159/000049385.


To see if evening primrose oil (EPO) could be more effective in a certain type of atopic dermatitis, we administered EPO to 14 atopic dermatitis patients characterized by itchy dry scaly skin. Furthermore, we measured serum levels of gamma-interferon (IFN-gamma) and IgE in addition to the clinical severity before and after the treatment to find out whether the treatment effect of EPO is related with an immunological mechanism. After the treatment, the extent of the skin lesions and the pruritus were markedly reduced in all patients. While serum IFN-gamma levels were significantly increased (p < 0.01) after the treatment up to those of the normal control group, serum IgE levels showed a significant decrease (p < 0.05), failing to normalize completely. We concluded that EPO could be highly effective in the treatment of a grossly noninflammatory type of atopic dermatitis. The restoration of serum IFN-gamma levels indicates that EPO might exert its effect through the modulation of the immunological mechanism involving IFN-gamma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / blood
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / drug therapy*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / blood*
  • Linoleic Acids
  • Male
  • Plant Oils
  • Pruritus / blood
  • Pruritus / drug therapy
  • Pruritus / immunology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid


  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Fatty Acids, Essential
  • Linoleic Acids
  • Plant Oils
  • evening primrose oil
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid
  • Interferon-gamma