Home / Acne / Evidence for decreased androgen 5 alpha-reduction in skin and liver of men with severe acne after 13-cis-retinoic acid treatment.

Evidence for decreased androgen 5 alpha-reduction in skin and liver of men with severe acne after 13-cis-retinoic acid treatment.

DOI: jcem.78.5.8175961  PMID: 8175961  

To investigate the effect of 13-cis-retinoic acid (13-cis-RA) treatment on androgen metabolism in men with severe nodulocystic acne, eight men with severe acne received an oral daily dose of 0.7 mg/kg 13-cis-RA over 3 months. Exploration of androgen metabolism in serum samples, 24-h urine collections, and skin biopsies obtained before and at the end of the treatment revealed no significant alterations in serum levels of either adrenal or gonadal androgens. However, the treatment did induce significant decreases in serum levels of the 5 alpha-reduced androgens: 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone (P < 0.02), androsterone glucosiduronate (P < 0.04), and 5 alpha-androstan-3 alpha, 17 beta-diol glucosiduronate (P < 0.004). Unlike serum, the urinary 5 alpha-reduced metabolites 5 alpha-androstan-3 alpha, 17 beta-diol and androsterone did not vary significantly despite a decrease in the excretion of the latter. Moreover, a marginally significant increase in urinary excretion of etiocholanolone, very similar to the decrease in androsterone excretion, was observed. The ratio of androsterone to etiocholanolone decreased significantly (P < 0.004) after 13-cis-RA therapy and suggested a metabolic deviation from the androgen 5 alpha- to 5 beta-reduction pathway in the liver. The most pronounced effect was observed in skin biopsies, which lost 80% of their ability to form 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone (P < 0.001). It is concluded that 13-cis-RA therapy in men with severe nodulocystic acne did not alter gonadal or adrenal functions, but it did induce 1) a highly significant decrease in 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone formation by skin biopsies; 2) significant decreases in serum 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone, androsterone glucosiduronate, and 5 alpha-androstan-3 alpha, 17 beta-diol glucosiduronate; and, finally, 3) deviation of the liver androgen 5 alpha- to 5 beta-reduction pathway. The effect of 13-cis-RA treatment on severe acne is consistent with the dramatic decrease in androgen 5 alpha-reduction observed mainly in the skin.

Boudou P,  Chivot M,  Vexiau P,  Soliman H,  Villette JM,  Julien R,  Belanger A,  Fiet J

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