Insulin resistance and acne: a new risk factor for men?

Endocrine. 2012 Dec;42(3):555-60. doi: 10.1007/s12020-012-9647-6. Epub 2012 Mar 25.


The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between acne and insulin resistance as well as other metabolic impairment in young males. Acne is a skin disease that can be influenced by endocrine abnormalities. In females, it is associated with polycystic ovary syndrome, with peripheral insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, whereas few data are available in males. For investigating this, 22 young males with acne have been compared to 22 controls of comparable age and gender. Acne was scored using the global acne grading system score. Clinical as well as biochemical parameters of glucose and lipid metabolism, circulating levels of androgens, and IGF-1 were evaluated. Oral glucose tolerance test was performed and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance was calculated. The results thus obtained are as follows, patients had higher BMI (p = 0.003), WC (p = 0.002), WHR (p = 0.02), SBP (p = 0.0001), DBP (p = 0.001), basal (p = 0.01) and 120 min. oGTT serum insulin concentrations (p = 0.002), basal glucose concentrations (p = 0.03), HOMA-IR (p = 0.016), and lower HDL-cholesterol than controls (p = 0.001). Among the subgroup of subjects with BMI <24.9, HDL-cholesterol (p = 0.05) and 120 min. oGTT serum insulin concentrations (p = 0.009) resulted to be independent predictors of acne at multivariate analysis. In conclusion, these findings highlight a metabolic imbalance in young males affected with acne. Insulin resistance seems to play the main role for the development of acne in these subjects. Insulin resistance could represent an effective target for therapy in male acne.

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / epidemiology*
  • Acne Vulgaris / pathology
  • Acne Vulgaris / physiopathology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Drug Resistance
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Male
  • Metabolic Diseases / complications
  • Metabolic Diseases / physiopathology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism
  • Skin / pathology
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Waist-Hip Ratio
  • Young Adult


  • Lipoproteins
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Testosterone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Cholesterol