Sebum excretion has generally been accepted as an important factor in the development of acne vulgaris. However, the relationship of sebum excretion and acne outcome has not yet been clearly demonstrated quantitatively. The objective of this analysis was to explore the correlation of sebum and acne by combining data from studies of various acne treatments that have demonstrated effects on both sebum excretion and acne outcome. Acne measures included total lesion count, inflammatory lesion count and acne severity grade. For each acne measure, data were pooled and analysed at the 3- and 4-month endpoints, when sebum reduction has generally equilibrated and efficacy in acne is approaching the maximum effect for most treatments. A linear model was used to describe the percentage reduction in each acne measure as a function of percentage reduction in sebum excretion. Slope values were similar for the three acne parameters and all were significantly different from zero (P < 0·025), suggesting a significant correlation of sebum and acne. The projected sebum reduction required to achieve 50% reduction in acne measures ranged from 30% to 50%. The results shown here suggest that the collective data across multiple studies may provide a useful generalization of the association of sebum reduction and acne outcome. As the relationship apparently remains consistent regardless of the treatment, it can be inferred that extrapolation to novel exploratory treatments may be valid.
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