New pharmaceutical concepts for sebaceous gland diseases: implementing today's pre-clinical data into tomorrow's daily clinical practice

Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2012 Aug;13(10):1898-913. doi: 10.2174/138920112802273173.


The human sebaceous gland is a microscopic branched type multiacinar gland been present everywhere on the body except on the palms and soles, whereas they are sparsely located on the dorsum of hands and feet. Several medical conditions are related with sebaceous gland pathology, such as acne, sebaceous hyperplasia, sebaceous adenoma and sebaceous carcinoma. Acne is a common, complex, chronic disorder of the human pilosebaceous unit that mostly occurs in adolescence and young adulthood. The sebaceous gland plays an exquisite role in the initiation of the disease. The multifactorial nature of the pathogenesis of acne includes increased sebum production, alteration of the quality of sebum lipids, inflammatory processes, interaction with neuropeptides and dysregulation of the hormone microenvironment, follicular hyperkeratinization and inflammation maintained by Propionbacterium acnes products within the follicle. On the other hand, the sebaceous gland, as a major and critical compartment of human skin, is also affected through ageing, both intrinsic and extrinsic, which lead to distinct clinical and histological changes. Intrinsic ageing of the sebaceous gland is determined primarily by genetic factors and hormonal status, with androgens playing a major role. A clinical manifestation associated with intrinsic ageing changes is skin xerosis. Extrinsic ageing of human sebaceous gland is mainly caused by accumulating UV irradiation, especially UVA. Photoageing of sebaceous gland is expressed with a wide spectrum of benign and malignant sebaceous tumours, such as sebaceous hyperplasia, sebaceous carcinoma and Muir-Torre syndrome. This review will focus on the pathogenesis of the most common sebaceous gland diseases and their molecular pathways which may represent future pharmaceutical targets.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / drug therapy
  • Acne Vulgaris / immunology
  • Acne Vulgaris / microbiology
  • Aging / immunology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / drug therapy
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / etiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / genetics
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects
  • Propionibacterium acnes / immunology
  • Sebaceous Gland Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Sebaceous Gland Diseases / etiology*
  • Sebaceous Gland Diseases / immunology
  • Sebaceous Gland Diseases / microbiology
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / etiology
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / genetics
  • Sebaceous Gland Neoplasms / immunology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents