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J Lipid Res. 2008 Feb;49(2):271-81. Epub 2007 Nov 1.

Thematic review series: skin lipids. Sebaceous gland lipids: friend or foe?

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  • 1Jake Gittlen Cancer Research Foundation, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA 17033, USA.


Sebaceous glands are intriguing glands that are found throughout the human body except on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The true function of these glands has yet to be determined, but there are several theories, including antioxidant effects, antibacterial effects, and transport of pheromones. Sebaceous glands produce lipids that are involved in the pathogenesis of one of the most prevalent diseases of adolescence, acne. Although the majority of lipids produced by the sebaceous gland are also produced in other areas of the body, there are two that are characteristic of the sebaceous gland, wax esters and squalene. This review seeks to present an update on the physiology of the sebaceous glands, with particular emphasis on the production of sebaceous lipids.

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