[The sebaceous gland]

Hautarzt. 2010 Jun;61(6):467-8, 4704, 476-7. doi: 10.1007/s00105-009-1894-y.
[Article in German]


The development and function of the sebaceous gland in the fetal and neonatal periods appear to be regulated by maternal androgens and by endogenous steroid synthesis, as well as by other morphogens. The most apparent function of the glands is to excrete sebum. A strong increase in sebum excretion occurs a few hours after birth; this peaks during the first week and slowly subsides thereafter. A new rise takes place at about age 9 years with adrenarche and continues up to age 17 years, when the adult level is reached. The sebaceous gland is a target organ but also an important formation site of hormones, and especially of active androgens. Hormonal activity is based on an hormone (ligand)-receptor interaction, whereas sebocytes express a wide spectrum of hormone receptors. Androgens are well known for their effects on sebum excretion, whereas terminal sebocyte differentiation is assisted by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor ligands. Estrogens, glucocorticoids, and prolactin also influence sebaceous gland function. In addition, stress-sensing cutaneous signals lead to the production and release of corticotrophin-releasing hormone from dermal nerves and sebocytes with subsequent dose-dependent regulation of sebaceous nonpolar lipids. Among other lipid fractions, sebaceous glands have been shown to synthesize considerable amounts of free fatty acids without exogenous influence. Atopic dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis and acne vulgaris are some of the disease on which pathogenesis and severity sebaceous lipids may or are surely involved.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / physiopathology
  • Adolescent
  • Adrenarche / physiology
  • Adult
  • Androgens / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Glucocorticoids / physiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prolactin / physiology
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter / physiology
  • Sebaceous Glands / embryology
  • Sebaceous Glands / physiopathology*
  • Sebum / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Receptors, Neurotransmitter
  • Prolactin