Increased prevalence of metabolic syndrome in patients with acne inversa

PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e31810. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031810. Epub 2012 Feb 16.


Background: Acne inversa (AI; also designated as Hidradenitis suppurativa) is a common chronic inflammatory skin disease, localized in the axillary, inguinal and perianal skin areas that causes painful, fistulating sinuses with malodorous purulence and scars. Several chronic inflammatory diseases are associated with the metabolic syndrome and its consequences including arteriosclerosis, coronary heart disease, myocardial infraction, and stroke. So far, the association of AI with systemic metabolic alterations is largely unexplored.

Methods and findings: A hospital-based case-control study in 80 AI patients and 100 age- and sex-matched control participants was carried out. The prevalence of central obesity (odds ratio 5.88), hypertriglyceridemia (odds ratio 2.24), hypo-HDL-cholesterolemia (odds ratio 4.56), and hyperglycemia (odds ratio 4.09) in AI patients was significantly higher than in controls. Furthermore, the metabolic syndrome, previously defined as the presence of at least three of the five alterations listed above, was more common in those patients compared to controls (40.0% versus 13.0%; odds ratio 4.46, 95% confidence interval 2.02 to 9.96; P<0.001). AI patients with metabolic syndrome also had more pronounced metabolic alterations than controls with metabolic syndrome. Interestingly, there was no correlation between the severity or duration of the disease and the levels of respective parameters or the number of criteria defining the metabolic syndrome. Rather, the metabolic syndrome was observed in a disproportionately high percentage of young AI patients.

Conclusions: This study shows for the first time that AI patients have a high prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and all of its criteria. It further suggests that the inflammation present in AI patients does not have a major impact on the development of metabolic alterations. Instead, evidence is given for a role of metabolic alterations in the development of AI. We recommend monitoring of AI patients in order to correct their modifiable cardiovascular risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa / epidemiology*
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa / etiology
  • Hidradenitis Suppurativa / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors