Journal of endocrinological investigation

The association of serum androsterone glucuronide with inflammatory lesions in women with adult acne.

PMID 12398233


Serum androsterone glucuronide (AoG) is a metabolite of circulating androgens under the influence of 5alpha-reductase activity and has been shown to be particularly elevated in women with acne. In this study, we wanted to evaluate changes in AoG before and after treatment with an oral contraceptive or placebo, and to assess whether changes correlated with the number and type of acne lesions. In order to accomplish these aims, we obtained sera from a completed prospective randomized trial, which was designed to assess the effectiveness of an oral contraceptive compared to placebo. Assessments were carried out in 56 women with moderate acne who were treated with Ortho Tri-Cyclen (norgestimate and ethinylestradiol) (30 patients) or placebo (26 patients) for 6 months. Before and after treatment, the number and type of skin lesions, serum levels of total T, free-T, DHEAS and AoG were determined. Serum AoG increased significantly in women with moderate acne, although T, free-T and DHEAS were normal. 75% of acne patients had elevated levels of serum AoG. Ratios of serum AoG to androgen precursors were also elevated. Oral contraceptive (OC) treatment significantly reduced levels of free-T and AoG, both of which were unaffected by placebo. While both OC and placebo treatment resulted in improvement of comedones and inflammatory lesions, OC treatment decreased inflammatory lesions to a greater extent (p<0.05). After treatment, serum AoG correlated with the number of inflammatory lesions. Results showed that serum AoG is a sensitive marker of acne in women, even in those with normal circulating precursor androgens; and is lowered by OC treatment, correlating with the reduction of inflammatory lesions. We hypothesize that the increase of serum AoG in normoandrogenic acne may be related to inflammation, and serum AoG may serve as a marker of this process.