Scientists from King's College London consulted with 1,205 female twins, and found that adolescents with spots tend to stay looking youthful for longer, compared to peers with "perfect skin".
They suggest this may be because people with acne have built-in protection against ageing, with wrinkles and thinning appearing later.
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For the study, researchers looked at white blood cells taken from acne sufferers and found they had longer protective caps on the ends of their chromosomes (a strand of DNA encoded with genes). These caps are called telomeres, and can be thought of as having a function like that of plastic tips on shoe laces which stop them from becoming frayed.
Lead author of the study, Dr Simone Ribero said that for many years dermatologists have noticed that the skin of acne sufferers appears to age more slowly than in those who have not experienced any acne.
“Our findings suggest that the cause could be linked to the length of telomeres which appears to be different in acne sufferers and means their cells may be protected against ageing,” he explained.
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“By looking at skin biopsies, we were able to begin to understand the gene expressions related to this.”
The researchers also examined gene expression in pre-existing skin biopsies from the same twins to identify possible gene pathways linked to acne. One gene pathway (the p53), which regulates programmed cell death, was also found to be less expressed in acne sufferers’ skin.
Accordingly, the researchers hope to undertake further investigation to identify other genes involved in cell ageing and how they differ in acne sufferers.
The study was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
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