Calprotectin as a Marker for Acne Severity and Treatment Response

laboratory assistant analyzing a blood sample
Calprotectin levels are increased in patients with acne and are positively correlated with disease severity so may aid in its evaluation.

Patients with acne vulgaris have increased levels of serum calprotectin which are positively correlated with acne severity, suggesting that serum calprotectin could act as a marker for disease assessment, according to study research published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

In this case-control study, a total of 90 patients with acne from an outpatient clinic in Egypt were categorized into 2 groups: patients with acne vulgaris (n=60) and healthy age- and sex-matched control participants without acne (n=30).

The Global Acne Grading System (GAGS) was used to assess the severity of disease in the patients with acne. The GAGS identified acne that was mild (1-18; n=25), moderate (19-30; n=32), severe (31-38; n=3), and very severe (≥39). Study investigators also used the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method to examine and compare serum calprotectin levels in both patients with acne and healthy control individuals.

Patients in the acne vulgaris group and control group were similar in terms of age (mean age, 20.10±2.92 vs 20.90 ± 3.22 years, respectively). In patients with acne, the mean duration of disease was 1.57±0.81 years.

The participants in the acne group had a significantly higher serum calprotectin level compared with healthy control particpants (16.52 ± 9.27 vs 1.73 ± 1.90, respectively; P <.001). A significantly higher mean serum calprotectin level was observed in the moderate to severe cases compared with the mild acne cases (22.01±6.98 vs 8.84±6.06, respectively; P <.001).

Limitations of this study included the overall small sample size as well as the lack of serum calprotectin assessment after acne treatment.

The investigators of the study added that further research is needed to determine whether calprotectin plays a “role as a biomarker in the evaluation of disease severity and its response to treatment” in patients with acne.

Follow @DermAdvisor


Fouda I, Obaid ZM, Hegazy SF, Samir Abd Al-Samie H, Nofal A. Calprotectin in acne vulgaris: A possible contributory role [published online June 27, 2020]. J Cosmet Dermatol. doi: 10.1111/jocd.13574