[Sebaceous glands as transporters of vitamin E]

Hautarzt. 2006 Apr;57(4):291-6. doi: 10.1007/s00105-005-1090-7.
[Article in German]


Human sebum is produced by sebaceous glands and reaches the skin surface via secretion through the hair shaft. There is experimental evidence that the sebaceous glands and sebum serve as a transport mechanism taking the lipophilic antioxidant vitamin E from the blood to the skin surface. The highest levels of vitamin E are found in the sebum and in the skin lipid film in sebum-rich areas such as facial skin. Recent studies indicate that daily oral supplementation of moderate doses of alpha-tocopherol for at least 3 weeks leads to significant increases of vitamin E levels in human skin sites with a high density of sebaceous glands, such as the face. Thus, the potential photoprotective and antioxidants effects of oral vitamin E, as well as possibly other antioxidants, are site-dependent. These findings should be considered when designing clinical studies to assess the efficacy of oral antioxidants against oxidative stress in the skin.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy
  • Acne Vulgaris / physiopathology
  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage
  • Antioxidants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation / drug effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Sebaceous Glands / physiology*
  • Sebum / physiology
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / pharmacokinetics*


  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Vitamin E