Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL), a secreted protein, and stratum corneum galectin-7 (SC Gal-7) may be useful as objective biomarkers of changes in symptoms of acne vulgaris, according to study results published in The Journal of Dermatology.

SC Gal-7 samples were obtained with the use of single stripping using a skin tape. The stripping tapes were applied to the cheek and to the forehead, regardless of the presence or absence of such skin eruptions as comedonal lesions. The SC Gal-7 samples were taken from the cheeks of 198 healthy women participants (mean age, 31.1 years; range, 15 to 39 years). The participants also completed a questionnaire about their acne frequency.

A total of 11 patients with acne vulgaris (9 women and 2 men; mean age, 26.5 years; range, 18-33 years) were enrolled in the study. All participants received such routine acne treatments as topical clindamycin phosphate, nadifloxacin, adapalene and oral roxithromycin, and faropenem. Serial measurements were obtained 4 separate times — at weeks 0, 2, 4, and 8 — in all participants.

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A comparison of SC Gal-7 NGAL levels from the cheeks of patients with acne vulgaris at the initiation of the study and at the time of symptom improvement showed a significant decrease (P =.038). In contrast, SC Gal-7 levels at the time of symptom improvement were significantly higher compared with those at the beginning of the study (P =.043). No significant changes were noted on participants’ foreheads.

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The investigators concluded that this tape-stripping method permitted them to obtain SC Gal-7 samples quickly and noninvasively from the skin lesions of patients with acne vulgaris. The results obtained from the study, however, were not deemed sufficiently valid to predict acne vulgaris symptoms because aberrant expression of these skin proteins must indicate some specific tissue conditions. This technique requires additional confirmation in an increased number of SC Gal-7 samples.


Watanabe K, Yoshino T, Takahashi M, et al. Clinical significance of neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin and galectin-7 in tape-stripped stratum corneum of acne vulgaris [published online February 22, 2018]. J Dermatol. doi: 10.1111/1346-8138.14261