Study: Seborrheic Dermatitis Has Distinct Molecular Signature


Newly unveiled research suggests that seborrheic dermatitis has its own unique molecular signature and is distinct in its own disease-specific pattern.

“The pathophysiology of seborrheic dermatitis has been poorly understood. We sought to understand the gene expression patterns in seborrheic dermatitis in order to determine if this profile is distinct from or similar to other immune-mediated skin conditions,” Benjamin Ungar, MD, director of the Alopecia Center of Excellence and director of the Rosacea & Seborrheic Dermatitis Clinic at Mount Sinai Health System, said in a news release. “Our data reveal that seborrheic dermatitis has a distinct immunological molecular profile. In addition, the skin barrier disruption observed in seborrheic dermatitis has unique molecular underpinnings, primarily in the tight junction of the epithelial skin cells and lipid metabolism pathways. These findings are the first to characterize the molecular profile of seborrheic dermatitis, and they will play an important role in advancing our understanding of this common and under-treated condition.”

Authors for the observational study presented at the American Academy of Dermatology 2024 Annual Meeting in San Diego examined tape strips from 27 untreated patients with seborrheic dermatitis (Investigator’s Global Assessment score mild [IGA 2, n = 400], moderate [IGA 3, n = 19], severe [IGA 4, n = 4] and those of 18 healthy controls. The research team then analyzed RNA sequencing.

Some of the findings included:

  • 1,374 differentially expressed genes between seborrheic dermatitis and healthy controls
  • Strong upregulation of Th17-related and Th22-related pathways in seborrheic dermatitis versus controls
  • Seborrheic dermatitis showed significant Th1 activation versus controls
  • Significant down-regulation of skin barrier markers in seborrheic dermatitis versus controls

“Despite the high prevalence of seborrheic dermatitis, there has been little dedicated clinical or basic research into the underlying cause of this chronic, inflammatory skin disease for decades,” said Patrick Burnett, MD, PhD, FAAD, chief medical officer at Arcutis, said in a news release. “Through this collaborative research effort, we have begun to shed some light on the pathways involved in the immune response and demonstrate that seborrheic dermatitis is clearly distinct from psoriasis or atopic dermatitis, which may help explain the clinical expression of the disease, and ultimately provide important insights into its management.”

Source: Arcutis news release. March 9, 2024.

Disclosures: Dr. Burnett is an employee of Arcutis. Dr. Ungar reports the following relationships: Arcutis Biotherapeutics – Advisory Board(Honoraria);  Bristol-Myers Squibb – Advisory Board(Honoraria); Castle Biosciences – Advisory Board(Honoraria);  Fresenius Kabi – Advisory Board(Honoraria);  Galderma – Advisory Board(Honoraria);  Incyte Corporation – Investigator(Grants/Research Funding);  Pfizer Inc. – Advisory Board(Honoraria), Investigator(Grants/Research Funding);  Primus Pharmaceuticals – Advisory Board(Honoraria); RAPT Therapeutics – Investigator(Grants/Research Funding);  Sanofi – Advisory Board(Honoraria);  Target-Derm – Advisory Board(Honoraria);  UCB – Advisory Board(Honoraria)

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