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PLoS One. 2014 Aug 25;9(8):e105238. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105238. eCollection 2014.

IL-17/Th17 pathway is activated in acne lesions.

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Department of Dermatology, University of Oulu and Medical Research Center, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland.
Unit of Systems Toxicology, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.
Department of Pathology, University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland.
Research, Galderma R&D, Sophia Antipolis, France.
Early Development, Galderma R&D, Sophia Antipolis, France.
Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Charite Universitätsmedizin, Berlin, Germany.
Department of Dermatology, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.


The mechanisms of inflammation in acne are currently subject of intense investigation. This study focused on the activation of adaptive and innate immunity in clinically early visible inflamed acne lesions and was performed in two independent patient populations. Biopsies were collected from lesional and non-lesional skin of acne patients. Using Affymetrix Genechips, we observed significant elevation of the signature cytokines of the Th17 lineage in acne lesions compared to non-lesional skin. The increased expression of IL-17 was confirmed at the RNA and also protein level with real-time PCR (RT-PCR) and Luminex technology. Cytokines involved in Th17 lineage differentiation (IL-1β, IL-6, TGF-β, IL23p19) were remarkably induced at the RNA level. In addition, proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines (TNF-α, IL-8, CSF2 and CCL20), Th1 markers (IL12p40, CXCR3, T-bet, IFN-γ), T regulatory cell markers (Foxp3, IL-10, TGF-β) and IL-17 related antimicrobial peptides (S100A7, S100A9, lipocalin, hBD2, hBD3, hCAP18) were induced. Importantly, immunohistochemistry revealed significantly increased numbers of IL-17A positive T cells and CD83 dendritic cells in the acne lesions. In summary our results demonstrate the presence of IL-17A positive T cells and the activation of Th17-related cytokines in acne lesions, indicating that the Th17 pathway is activated and may play a pivotal role in the disease process, possibly offering new targets of therapy.

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