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04-11-2010 | Dermatology | Article

Isotretinoin treatment for acne does not induce insulin resistance


Free abstract

MedWire News: Isotretinoin treatment for acne does not induce insulin resistance over a 3-month period, show study findings published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology.

"Although an effective and generally well-tolerated medication, isotretinoin (13-cis-retinoic acid) also has a wide range of side-effects," explain Derun Taner Ertugrul and colleagues from the Ankara Kecioren Research and Training Hospital in Turkey.

Treatment with isotretinoin is known to increase total cholesterol and triglycerides and decrease high density lipoprotein cholesterol, and has been suggested to induce disturbed glucose metabolism.

To investigate further, Ertugrul and colleagues recruited 48 patients (35 women). aged 22 years on average, with acne vulgaris to take part in their study.

The patients were screened for biochemical markers including lipids, insulin, C peptide, fasting glucose, aspartate, and alanine aminotransferases before and 4 months after starting treatment with isotretinoin. The initial dose was 0.50-0.75 mg/kg body weight, which was adjusted to a maintenance dose of 0.88 mg/kg/day after 1 month.

The team found that although aspartate, alanine aminotransferases, total- and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides were significantly increased from baseline at 4 months, no significant change in any glucose metabolism related parameters was observed.

Previous findings suggest that due to the ability of retinoic acid (isotretinoin) to activate the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor β/γ, it "may be an effective agent in suppressing adiposity and insulin resistance." However, no significant evidence for this was seen in this study.

"To test the hypothesis that isotretinoin may decrease fat mass and insulin resistance in humans, further studies on obese and insulin-resistant subjects are required," conclude Ertugrul et al.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert