Phase angle and Mediterranean diet in patients with acne: Two easy tools for assessing the clinical severity of disease

J Transl Med. 2021 Apr 26;19(1):171. doi: 10.1186/s12967-021-02826-1.


Background: Acne is a chronic, inflammatory and debilitating skin disorder. Dietary factors and nutritional status are among the exacerbating factors of acne. Phase angle (PhA), a direct measure of Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA), represents an indicator of the chronic inflammatory state. The Mediterranean diet (MD) is a healthy dietary pattern that can exert anti-inflammatory effects in several inflammatory diseases. We aimed to investigate the difference in PhA and adherence to the MD and their associations with the severity of acne in a sample of naïve treatment patients with acne compared to control group.

Materials: In this cross-sectional, case-control, observational study, we enrolled 51 patients with acne and 51 control individuals. Body composition was evaluated by a BIA phase-sensitive system (50 kHz BIA 101 RJL, Akern Bioresearch, Florence, Italy, Akern). For adherence to the MD, we have used the PREvención con DIeta MEDiterránea (PREDIMED) questionnaire. The clinical severity of acne was assessed by using the global acne grading system (GAGS), a quantitative scoring system to assess acne severity.

Results: Patients with acne had a worse body composition, in particular smaller PhA (p = 0.003), and a lower adherence to the MD (p < 0.001) than the control group, in spite of no differences in gender, age and BMI between the two groups. Stratifying patients with acne according to GAGS categories, both PhA (p = 0.006) and PREDIMED score (p = 0.007) decreased significantly in severe acne than mild/moderate acne. The GAGS score was negative correlations with PhA (r = - 0.478, p < 0.001) and PREDIMED score (r = - 0.504, p < 0.001). The results of the multivariate analysis showed PhA and PREDIMED score were the major determinants of GAGS score (p < 0.001). The receiver operator characteristic (ROC) analysis reporting a value of PhA of ≤ 6.1° and a PREDIMED score of ≤ 9 identified patients with acne with the highest clinical severity of the disease.

Conclusions: Novel correlations were reported between PhA and the degree of adherence to the MD with acne severity. Of interest, PhA and PREDIMED scores might represent possible markers of the severity of acne in a clinical setting. This study highlights how a cooperation between dermatologist and nutritionists might provide a combination key in the complex management of acne patients.

Keywords: Acne; Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA); Body composition; Mediterranean diet; Nutrition; Nutritionist; Phase angle.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Electric Impedance
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Severity of Illness Index