A common form of adult acne may result from a defect in the immune system, according to recent findings from Dr. Richard L. Gallo in the UCSD Division of Dermatology.

Acne rosacea, a chronic condition, affects approximately 14 million people in the U.S. It can cause skin redness, visible blood vessels, facial burning or swelling, and bumps or pustules on the skin.

In acne rosacea sufferers, Dr. Gallo and his international team of coworkers have detected abnormally high levels of two immune system compounds.

The compounds are normally involved in preventing skin infection. They have antimicrobial and pro-inflammatory properties and may play a role in causing acne rosacea.

The report was published online in Nature Medicine in August.

The finding may lead to development of new treatments that address the root cause of the acne rosacea, rather than its symptoms.

In the past, patients have been given antibiotics on the assumption that the problem is caused by a bacterial infection.

Richard L. Gallo, M.D., Ph.D., is Professor and Chief of the Division of Dermatology at UCSD and a member of the Dermatology Section at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

In his research, Dr. Gallo focuses on the immune system and its effect on health and disease of the skin.

The study was supported by funding from National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health, the National Rosacea Society, a Veterans Administration Merit Award to Dr. Gallo, and the Association for Preventive Medicine of Japan.

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