Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is an inflammatory follicular skin disease. In women and men, the condition starts after puberty, has a peak in the third decade, and is rare after the menopause in women. This age distribution suggests a hormonal influence in the pathogenesis of the disease. We therefore hypothesized that apocrine glands in HS patients have a different expression of androgen receptor (AR) and estrogen receptor (ER) compared with healthy skin.
Axillary, inguinal, and perianal skin biopsies from female and male patients with HS were immunohistochemically stained for AR and ER activities. Expression of both receptors in apocrine glands of HS patients was compared with expression in apocrine glands in normal axillary or inguinal skin of a control group of women.
Twenty-two patients with HS were included (16 women), with 10 women in the control group. In the HS group, apocrine glands were present in 11 out of 22 skin biopsies and in the control group in 4 out of 10 biopsies. Expression of ER in the apocrine gland was weak and observed in 2 out of 4 patients in the control group and in none of the HS patients. Expression of the AR was strong and observed in all apocrine glands in both groups.
We could not demonstrate a significant difference in the expression of ER and AR in apocrine glands in skin biopsies of patients with HS, compared with healthy skin biopsies. The exact relation between sex hormones and occurrence of HS therefore remains unclear.
*Department of Surgery, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
†Department of Surgery, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands;
‡Department of Surgery, Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands;
§Department of Surgery, Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, The Netherlands; and
¶Department of Pathology, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Reprints: Mathijs G. Buimer, MD, Department of Surgery, VU University Medical Center, De Boelelaan 1117, Amsterdam 1081 HV, The Netherlands (e-mail: email@example.com).
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
Study concept and design: M. G. Buimer, W. A. M. Blokx, and T. Wobbes; Acquisition, analysis, and interpretation of data: M. G. Buimer and W. A. M. Blokx; Drafting of the manuscript: M. G. Buimer, M. M. P. J. Reijnen, J. H. G. Klinkenbijl, W. A. M. Blokx, and T. Wobbes; Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: T. Wobbes, J. H. G. Klinkenbijl, M. M. P. J. Reijnen, and W. A. M. Blokx; Statistical analysis: M. G. Buimer; Obtained funding: M. G. Buimer; Administrative, technical, or material support: M. G. Buimer and W. A. M. Blokx; Study supervision: W. A. M. Blokx, T. Wobbes, and J. H. G. Klinkenbijl.