Biochemical markers of oxidative and nitrosative stress in acne vulgaris: correlation with disease activity

J Clin Lab Anal. 2013 Jan;27(1):45-52. doi: 10.1002/jcla.21560.


Background: Acne vulgaris is a multifactorial skin disorder of unknown etiology. Free radical-mediated reactions have been implicated but their role in eliciting this response and contributing to disease progress remains unexplored. This study was undertaken to investigate the status and contribution of oxidative/nitrosative stress in patients with acne vulgaris.

Methods: Sera from 50 acne vulgaris with varying levels of disease activity (mild, moderate, and severe) according to the Global Acne Grading System (GAGS) and 40 age- and sex-matched controls were evaluated for serum levels of oxidative/nitrosative stress markers, including protein oxidation, lipid peroxidation and nitric oxide (NO), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and glutathione (GSH).

Results: Serum analysis showed significantly higher levels of carbonyl contents, malondialdehyde (MDA) and NO, in acne patients compared with healthy controls (P < 0.05). Interestingly, not only there were an increased number of subjects positive for carbonyl contents, but also the levels of these oxidants were significantly increased with the increase of the disease activity (P < 0.05). In addition, a significant correlation was observed between the levels of carbonyl contents and the GAGS scores (r = 0.341, r = 0.355, and r = 0.299, respectively). Furthermore, sera from acne patients had lower levels of SOD and GSH compared with healthy control sera.

Conclusion: These findings support an association between oxidative/nitrosative stress and acne. The stronger response observed in serum samples from patients with higher GAGS scores suggests that markers of oxidative/nitrosative stress may be useful in evaluating the progression of acne and in elucidating the mechanisms of disease pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / blood
  • Acne Vulgaris / metabolism*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / chemistry
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Blood Proteins / chemistry
  • Blood Proteins / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Peroxidation
  • Male
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Antioxidants
  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Proteins
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Glutathione