Do Patients With Vitiligo Have Higher Risk for Metabolic Disturbances?

Vitiligo on a man's arm
Vitiligo on a man’s arm
The prevalence and association of metabolic syndrome in patients with vitiligo was determined via analyses in this study.

The following article is part of our coverage of the American Academy of Dermatology’s annual meeting (AAD 2021) that is being held virtually from April 23-25, 2021. Dermatology Advisor‘s staff will report on the top research in dermatologic advances and clinical care. Check back for the latest news from AAD 2021.


Although vitiligo and metabolic syndrome may not be associated, many patients with vitiligo may have more metabolic disturbances compared with patients without the acquired pigmentary skin disorder, according to study results presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Virtual Meeting Experience (AAD VMX) 2021, held online from April 23 to 25, 2021.

The study was a systematic review and meta-analysis of 6 studies published before August 2020. The investigators performed the analysis to determine the prevalence and association of metabolic syndrome in patients with vitiligo.

The pooled prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 0.296 in patients with vitiligo (95% CI, 0.206-0.386; P <.001). Patients with the skin disorder did not appear to have a greater likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome compared with those in the pooled control group (OR, 1.66; 95% CI, 0.83-3.33; P =.005).

In a leave-one-out sensitivity analysis, the investigators found a significant association between vitiligo and metabolic syndrome (P <.0001). Patients with vitiligo had significantly higher fasting glycemic index (mean difference [MD], 5.35; 95% CI, 2.77-7.93; P <.0001) and diastolic blood pressure (MD, 1.97; 95% CI, 0.02-3.92; P =.05) compared with control group participants.

The investigators found no significant difference between control group participants and patients with vitiligo in terms of waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, high-density lipoproteins, cholesterol, or triglycerides.

Limitations of this meta-analysis were the inclusion of a small number of studies as well as the variability in studies in the criteria for diagnosing both vitiligo and metabolic syndrome.

Despite this lack of significant association between metabolic syndrome and vitiligo, the investigators wrote in their abstract that “dermatologists and other physicians should be vigilant given the prevalence of [metabolic syndrome] in patients with vitiligo is approximately 30%.”

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Melian C, Xiao J, Guo W, Usmani H, Lozeau D. Vitiligo and metabolic syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Poster presented at: American Academy of Dermatology’s Virtual Meeting Experience 2021; April 23-25, 2021. Poster 26157.