The Impact of Hormones on Sebocytes

The Impact of Hormones on Sebocytes

Research has found that acne skins are triggered by increased male hormones called Androgens; Higher levels of testosterone are recorded in acne skins and can explain the reason we break out more as we go through puberty.

Androgens are classified as a group of male hormones and are often called steroids or anabolic steroids. Testosterone falls into the category of this group of male hormones which is controlled by the anterior pituitary gland and produced in the testes of males, and in the ovaries of females. It is also produced by the adrenal glands in both sexes, though the production is much higher in males than females.

Testosterone is essential for signaling the body to make new blood cells. This ensures that muscles and bones retain strength during and post-puberty, it also increases the libido in both sexes. The changes testosterone has on the male body at puberty include height increases, body and pubic hair growth, enlargement of the penis, testes, and prostate gland.

Luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone are both regulated by testosterone. Luteinising hormones in both sexes has an important role in stimulating sexual development and functioning. In females, it plays a huge role with the release of eggs from the ovaries. With males the LH stimulates the production of testosterone from the cells of the testes. Follicular stimulating hormones are constantly changing throughout the menstrual cycle, and peaks with the highest levels prior to an egg being released by the ovary. In males FSH increases testicular growth.

Enter dihydrotestosterone (5a-DHT)! This hormone stimulates further development of male characteristics. Approximately 10% of the testosterone that is produced in adulthood is converted to dihydrotestosterone every day. Studies have shown that when comparing testosterone and 5a-DHT, 5a-DHT is much more potent. Acne sufferers produce much higher percentages of testosterone and 5a-DHT combined than people who do not have acne. Enzymes within the sebaceous glands convert testosterone to 5a-DHT.

The cytoplasm and cell membrane of the sebocyte cell contain 5a-DHT. These Sebocyte cells are plentiful in the facial area including the neck, chest, and back. This explains why acne might develop in these areas.

Testosterone and 5a-DHT are mediated by binding to the nuclear androgen receptors found in sebaceous glands. This action stimulates sebum secretions.

In summary sebocytes contain androgen-metabolizing enzymes which metabolise weak circulating androgens and create more potent androgens such as dihydrotestosterone.

Dihydrotestosterone binds to receptors on the sebocytes, which causes a reaction where the sebaceous gland increases in size and increases its metabolic rate.

Studies have shown that the activity of 5-alpha-reductase is higher in the scalp and facial skin than in other areas, so that testosterone and dihydrotestosterone stimulate more sebaceous gland proliferation in these areas. Estrogens, on the other hand, have been found to decrease sebaceous gland secretion.

When treating acne skin, it is essential to identify how hormones are contributing to this condition. Knowledge regarding hormones and how they work together will assist you to achieve healthy skin for your client.

Yours in skin,

Gay Wardle

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