Highlights from the 11th Annual AARS Annual Scientific Symposium

May 31, 2024 | Blog

As part of its ongoing efforts to support research and share scientific knowledge about acne, hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), and rosacea, the American Acne and Rosacea Society (AARS) hosted its 11th Annual Scientific Symposium on May 15, 2024. The AARS was thrilled to welcome the attendees of the annual Society for Investigative Dermatology meeting to hear researchers from across the US present recent advancements in dermatological research focusing on acne, HS, and rosacea.

Mackenzie L. Sennett from Penn State College of Medicine presented “Therapeutic Potential of mTOR Inhibitors in Acne-Prone Skin.” This research explores the molecular characteristics of non-lesional acne skin and potential therapeutic targets. The study hypothesizes intrinsic differences in transcriptomes between acne-prone and healthy skin. RNA sequencing of biopsies from 49 acne patients and 19 controls revealed 367 differentially expressed genes. Key findings include the upregulation of genes related to epidermal stress and innate immune activation, and the downregulation of late cornified envelope proteins. Metabolic pathways such as oxidative phosphorylation and mTORC1 signaling were enriched in acne-prone skin. Connectivity mapping identified mTOR inhibitors, particularly sirolimus, as promising therapeutic agents. The researchers conclude that mTOR inhibitors might prevent acne lesion formation by inhibiting mTORC1 signaling.

Alicia Podwojniak from Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine presented “Acne and the Cutaneous Microbiome: A Systematic Review.” The research reviews the role of the cutaneous microbiome in acne and includes 26 studies from 2013-2023, highlighting that acne involves a complex interplay of microbial species. Findings indicate that although the abundance of C. acnes is similar in acne and non-acne skin, certain ribotypes are more prevalent in acne lesions. Decreased microbial diversity and specific microbial interactions play significant roles in acne pathogenesis. Treatments like doxycycline and benzoyl peroxide alter microbial diversity, while emerging therapies such as topical probiotics and plant extracts show promise in modulating the microbiome and reducing acne severity.

From Yale University, Dr. Christopher Bunick’s presentation, “Molecular Mechanism of Protein Synthesis Inhibition in Cutibacterium acnes by Clindamycin,” delved into the molecular interactions between clindamycin and C. acnes ribosomes. Clindamycin inhibits protein synthesis by binding to the 50S subunit of the ribosome, disrupting peptide bond formation. Cryo-electron microscopy revealed that an extensive water network stabilizes clindamycin’s binding. Resistance mechanisms include mutations in the 23S rRNA, which can disrupt clindamycin binding. Comparatively, sarecycline, another antibiotic, uses a two-site binding mechanism, reducing resistance likelihood. The study underscores the need for judicious antibiotic use and the development of new antibiotics to combat resistance.

Dr. Nina Rossa Haddad from Johns Hopkins Medicine, presented “Positive Correlation of Hidradenitis Suppurativa and Ultra-Processed Foods Consumption.” This research investigates the link between HS and ultra-processed food (UPF) consumption. HS, characterized by painful nodules and abscesses, is more prevalent among females and African Americans. The study uses data from Google Trends and the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to analyze the correlation between UPF consumption and HS prevalence. Results show a strong positive correlation between UPF consumption and HS across various demographics. The study recommends reducing UPF intake to potentially ameliorate HS symptoms and emphasizes the need for further research to isolate the effects of dietary patterns from those of obesity.

“Using Facial Skin Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Capture Acne Patients’ Response to Therapy: A Single Center Prospective Study,” presented by Shirley P. Parraga of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, evaluates AI technology in monitoring acne treatment response. Ten patients undergoing personalized acne treatments were analyzed using the Perfect Skincare Corporation Pro AI-based tool and VISIA® Complexion Analysis Model. AI measured changes in facial redness, pores, and texture, showing high agreement rates with physician assessments. The technology proved effective, practical, and accurate for assessing treatment response, suggesting its potential for enhancing personalized acne treatment strategies.

Dr. Benjamin Ungar from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai presented 2 abstracts. “Rosacea and Gastrointestinal Diseases: A Case-Control Study in the All of Us Database” explores the association between rosacea and GI disorders using the All of Us database. The study identified 8,319 rosacea patients and 33,276 matched controls, finding significant associations between rosacea and conditions like IBS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, Helicobacter-associated disease, and GERD. These findings support the need for targeted monitoring of GI diseases in rosacea patients and further investigation into the gut-skin axis. The research advocates for integrated treatment approaches addressing both skin and gut health to improve patient outcomes.

“Rosacea and Cardiovascular Disease: An Updated Systematic Review” explores the intricate relationship between rosacea, a chronic inflammatory skin condition, and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). The presentation highlights rosacea as a systemic disease, linking it to comorbidities like migraines, Parkinson’s disease, and gastrointestinal diseases. It underscores the role of systemic inflammation, which is pivotal in both rosacea and atherosclerosis, contributing to cardiovascular risks. Key findings from studies on inflammatory markers like CRP and ESR show elevated levels in rosacea patients. Despite mixed evidence, the presentation suggests a notable relationship between rosacea and cardiovascular diseases, emphasizing the importance of understanding and managing this connection to improve patient outcomes.

These presentations collectively highlight the intricate connections between skin conditions and systemic factors, emphasizing the importance of scientific endeavor, including molecular research, microbiome studies, and investigation of dietary impacts and innovative technologies in dermatology.

Dr. Lawrence Eichenfield, Past President of the AARS, moderated the symposium. He said he was impressed by the diversity of the presentations. “I think the quality of the work and the variations in the methodologies that are being used is what stands out,” he commented. “We had this incredible range of experience of people who I think most importantly were working in effective teams. There are individuals who made the presentations, but you could tell from both their discussions and their ‘thank yous’ at the end that it’s really a team of researchers. That’s the way I think research is. Individuals work hard but the most effective research is done in groups of people who support each other in many ways.”

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