New clues to help unlock the mystery of rosacea were identified in a recent study in which researchers used advanced technology to evaluate the skin of patients successfully treated with pulsed dye lasers (PDL) or intense pulsed light (IPL).
"We are pleased to see interesting findings in this small pilot study that not only help reveal the underlying disease process, but may also provide a basis for developing more targeted therapy in the future," said Dr. Nancy Samolitis, visiting instructor in dermatology at the University of Utah and investigator in the NRS-funded study.
In the study, the researchers examined biopsies of 10 rosacea patients before and after five received PDL treatment and five IPL treatment for the presence of biochemical components previously associated with rosacea. Each patient received four monthly treatment sessions on one side of the face, with the untreated side serving as a clinical control.
Before treatment the researchers found elevated levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), associated with the development of visible blood vessels (telangiectasia), in five of the 10 rosacea patients. In four of these subjects -- three in the PDL group and one in the IPL group -- the level decreased after therapy.
Eight of the patients were also found to have elevated cathelicidins, natural antimicrobial agents linked in previous research to rosacea inflammation, and the level was reduced in three IPL- and two PDL-treated patients after treatment.
"The results of this study suggest that PDL and IPL may have a role in the reduction of telangiectasia," Dr. Samolitis said. "Our findings particularly suggest that cathelicidins and VEGF may play a role in the pathogenesis of rosacea and warrant further study."
Both the physicians and patients rated significant improvement in rosacea severity in the 10 individuals treated.
Although light sources are commonly used to remove visible blood vessels, their usefulness in reducing the redness of rosacea requires further study. Drug therapy is usually prescribed to control the bumps and pimples of rosacea and has been shown to significantly reduce the incidence of flare-ups.