Topical application of autophagy-activating peptide improved skin barrier function and reduced acne symptoms in acne-prone skin

Yoonjin Lee, Kayoung Shin, Kyong Oh Shin, Seokjeong Yoon, Juyeon Jung, Eojin Hwang, Hwa Jee Chung, Amir M. Hossini, Christos C. Zouboulis, Min Jeong Baek, Ji Hwoon Baek, Young Min Chi, Sangeun Lee, Sekyoo Jeong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Recent studies about the important roles of autophagy signaling in sebaceous lipogenesis and epidermal differentiation suggest potential benefits of autophagy activation in acne. Aims: To investigate the effects of an autophagy activator on acne-prone skin. Methods: Autophagy signaling in human immortalized SZ95 sebocytes, normal human epidermal keratinocytes, and 3D reconstituted skin was examined. Effects of an autophagy-activating peptide on sebaceous lipogenesis were measured by fluorescence microscopic analysis. The clinical efficacy in acne-prone skin was evaluated through an eight-week, double-blind, randomized, vehicle-controlled study. Changes in skin surface lipid compositions were further analyzed. Results: In cultured sebocytes and keratinocytes, the investigated autophagy-activating peptide increased LC3-II expression, indicating a stimulation of autophagy signaling. Testosterone and linoleic acid treatment induced lipogenesis in cultured sebocytes and is further inhibited by the autophagy activator peptide treatment. Increased expression of differentiation marker proteins in cultured keratinocytes was also observed by autophagy-activating peptide. In clinical study, reduction of closed comedones and the amount of skin surface lipids as well as of trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) were observed in acne-prone skin after autophagy-activating peptide application. In addition, reduction of squalene and increase in cholesterol were observed after an 8-week application. Conclusions: Topical application of an autophagy activator downregulated sebaceous lipogenesis and improved the skin barrier function. Considering the important roles of sebum and skin barrier function in acne pathogenesis, autophagy activation might represent a new therapeutic option in early forms of acne.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1009-1016
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cosmetic Dermatology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar


  • Autophagy
  • hydrolipidic film
  • peptide mimetic
  • sebaceous lipogenesis
  • skin lipids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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