Medical scientists reported significant progress in uncovering the potential causes and other key aspects of rosacea during the National Rosacea Society's third annual research workshop, held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Society for Investigative Dermatology. More than 130 researchers heard results of ongoing studies funded by the National Rosacea Society, and discussed the need for further scientific investigation into this highly prevalent disorder.
"The research grants program has been gaining momentum, and we are now at a point where many studies are bearing fruit," said Dr. Lynn Drake of Harvard Medical School, who chaired the workshop. "Learning more about the potential causes of rosacea and further defining its manifestations provide a fundamental basis for advances in treatment as well as its potential cure or prevention."
Dr. Richard Gallo, associate professor, medicine and pediatrics, University of California, San Diego and director of dermatological research, VA San Diego, presented interim study results on the "Role of the innate immune system in rosacea." He noted that the immune system produces peptides that are a natural defense against the presence of bacteria. He and his colleagues found that a particular type of peptide known as a cathelicidin is present in the skin of rosacea patients and can cause some symptoms of rosacea, such as inflammation, redness and increased blood vessel growth. They concluded that these cathelicidins may be a significant link in the development of rosacea.
Sabrina Delaney, of a research team at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, presented preliminary results of the study, "An investigation of the role of bacterial and Demodex-associated antigens in the induction of rosacea." Demodex mites are commonly present on facial skin but occur at a higher density on rosacea patients. Their study found that in rosacea patients, a bacterial species on the surface of the mites produces a toxin that causes a number of symptoms of rosacea. This suggests that Demodex mites may play a role in rosacea by transporting the bacteria onto the areas of the face that subsequently become inflamed.
Dr. Diane Thiboutot, associate professor of dermatology at Pennsylvania State University, noted in her interim report, "A bioengineering evaluation of facial rosacea," that the facial skin of rosacea patients was thicker than that of control subjects without rosacea, while skin elasticity, water loss and oil production were not statistically different. She and her colleagues are also investigating antibody concentrations and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
Dr. Sinead Langan, of Mater Misericordiae Hospital, Dublin, Ireland, presented ongoing results of the study, "Rosacea: prevalence and relationship to cutaneous photodamage." The study is examining whether subtype 2 (papulopustular) rosacea, which includes bumps and pimples as well as facial redness, occurs more frequently in those with sun-damaged skin by examining two populations, hospital workers who spend much time indoors, and individuals who are largely employed outdoors.