Journal of Neural Transmission

, Volume 104, Issue 11–12, pp 1295–1304 | Cite as

Is seborrhea a sign of autonomic impairment in Parkinson's disease?

  • E. Martignoni
  • L. Godi
  • C. Pacchetti
  • E. Berardesca
  • G. P. Vignoli
  • G. Albani
  • F. Mancini
  • G. Nappi
Parkinson's Disease and Allied Conditions


An increase of sebum excretion rate (SER) is frequently observed in patients suffering from Parkinson's disease (PD). Some authors attribute it to the hyperactivity of the parasympathetic system, while others consider the possible action of androgens or of MSH-hormone.

The aim of our study was to verify and quantify SER in 70 parkinsonian patients and compare it with SER in 60 normal subjects.

We found higher values of SER in male subjects, both in normal and in parkinsonian patients. The highest rate of excretion was observed in parkinsonian males, in agreement with the possible main role of androgens or testosterone in sebum excretion, while the phenomenon did not appear to be related to abnormalities of the autonomic nervous system.

The association of PD and sex hormones might therefore be crucial for the developing of seborrhea.


Seborrhea Parkinson's disease autonomic nervous system 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Agache P, Blanc D (1982) Current status in sebum knowledge. Int J Derm 21: 304–315Google Scholar
  2. Aminoff MJ, Wilcox CS (1971) Assessment of autonomic function in patients with a Parkinsonian Syndrome. Br Med J 4: 80–84Google Scholar
  3. Burton JL, Shuster S (1970) Effect of L-dopa on seborrhea of parkinsonism. Lancet ii: 19–20Google Scholar
  4. Burton JL, Cunliffe WJ, Shuster S (1970) Increased sebum excretion in patients with breast cancer. Br Med J 1: 665Google Scholar
  5. Burton JL, Cunliffe WJ, Stafford I, etal (1971) The prevalence of acne vulgaris in adolescence. Br J Dermatol 85: 119Google Scholar
  6. Burton JL, Libman LJ, Cunliffe WJ, et al (1972) Sebum excretion in acromegaly. Br Med J 1: 406Google Scholar
  7. Burton JL, Cartlidge M, Cartlidge NEF, Shuster S (1973) Sebum excretion in Parkinsonism. Br J Dermatol 88: 263–266Google Scholar
  8. Cohn T (1920) Encephalitis ohne lethargic wahrend der grippcepidemie. Zent Bl Neurol 38: 260–264Google Scholar
  9. Darley CR, Kirby JDT, Besser JM, et al (1980) Serum testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin and serum prolactin in acne vulgaris. J Invest Dermatol 74: 452Google Scholar
  10. Fahn S, Elton RL and Members of the UPDRS Development Committee (1987) Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale. In: Fahn S, Marsden CD, Calne DB, Goldstein M (eds) Recent developments in Parkinson's disease, vol 2. Macmillan Health Care Information, Florham Park, NJ, pp 153–164Google Scholar
  11. Franceschi M, Camerlingo M, Perego L, Bottacchi E, Truci G, Mamoli A (1988) Tubero-infundibular dopaminergic function in Parkinson's disease. Eur Neurol 28: 117–119Google Scholar
  12. Goolamali SK, Shuster S (1975) A sebotrophic stimulus in benign and malignant breast disease. Lancet i: 1975Google Scholar
  13. Goolamali SK, Burton JL, Shuster S (1973) Sebum excretion in hypopituitarism. Br J Dermatol 89: 21Google Scholar
  14. Harville DD, Appenzeller O (1978) A new approach to the reduction of sebum secretion. Arch Dermatol 103: 492Google Scholar
  15. Hughes AJ, Daniel SE, Kilford L, Lees AJ (1992) Accuracy of clinical diagnosis of idiopathic Parkinson's disease: a clinico-pathological study of 100 cases. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 55: 181–184Google Scholar
  16. Krestin D (1927) The seborrheic facies as a manifestation of postencephalitic parkinsonism and allied disorders. Q J Med 21: 177–186Google Scholar
  17. Martignoni E, Pacchetti C, Godi L, Micieli G, Nappi G (1995a) Autonomic disorders in Parkinson's disease. J Neural Transm 45: 11–19Google Scholar
  18. Martignoni E, Pacchetti C, Micieli G, Nappi G (1995b) Autonomic disorders in Parkinson's disease and Shy-Drager syndrome. In: Korczyn A (ed) Handbook of autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Marcel Dekker, New York Basel Hong Kong, pp 235–252Google Scholar
  19. Martignoni E, Horowski R, Liuzzi A, Costa A, Dallabonzana D, Cozzi R, Attanasio R, Rainer E, Nappi G (1996) Effects of terguride on anteriory pituitary function in parkinsonian patients treated with L-dopa: a double-blind study versus placebo. Clin Neuropharmacol 19: 72–80Google Scholar
  20. Matzuk MM, Saper CB (1985) Preservation of hypotalamic dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson's disease. Ann Neurol 18: 552–555Google Scholar
  21. Pacchetti C, Sibilla L, Bruggi P, Cavallini A, Micieli G, Martignoni E, Nappi G (1990) Autonomic disturbances in Parkinson's Disease and Multiple System Atrophy: clinical aspects. Funct Neurol 4: 49–56Google Scholar
  22. Pierard GE (1987) Rate and topography of follicolar sebum excretion. Dermatologica 175: 280–283Google Scholar
  23. Plewig G, Kligman AM (1978) Proliferative activity of the sebaceous glands of the aged. J Invest Dermatol 70: 314Google Scholar
  24. Plewig G, Fulton JE, Braun-Falco O (1971) Proliferative cells in the human sebaceous gland. Acta Dermatol Venereol 51: 413Google Scholar
  25. Pochi PE, Strauss JS (1969) Sebaceous gland response in man to adminstration of testosterone C4, androstenedione and dehydroisoandrosterone. J Invest Dermatol 52: 32–36Google Scholar
  26. Pochi PE, Strauss JS (1974) Endocrinologic control of the development and activity of the human sebaceous gland. J Invest Dermatol 62: 191–201Google Scholar
  27. Pochi PE, Strauss JS, Mescon H (1974) Sebum production and fractional 17-ketosteroid excretion in parkinsonism. J Invest Dermatol 62: 191–202Google Scholar
  28. Rainero I, Kaye A, May C, Durso R, Katz D, Albert ML, Wolfe N, Pinessi L, Friedland RP, Papoport SI (1988) Alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormonelike immunoreactivity is increased in cerebrospinal fluid of patients with Parkinson's disease. Arch Neurol 45: 1224–1227Google Scholar
  29. Sandyk R (1989) Melanocyte stimulating hormone in tardive dyskinesia. Biol Psychiatry 26: 209–220Google Scholar
  30. Shuster S, Thody AJ (1974) The control and measurement of sebum secretion. Invest Dermatol 62: 172–190Google Scholar
  31. Shuster JS, Thody AJ, Goolamali SK, Burton JL, Plummer N, Bates D (1973) Melanocyte stimulating hormone and parkinsonism. Lancet i: 463–464Google Scholar
  32. Sparavigna A, Gallato R, Berardesea R, Parenzan P, D'Este P, Pepe P, Flori L, Andreassi L (1993) Studio pilota per la determinazione del range di normalità del sebo, idratazione e pH cutanei mediante “Bioskin Tester” G. Ital Dermatol Venerol 128: 5–10Google Scholar
  33. St.Leiger D, Berrebi C, Duboz CH, et al (1979) Tje lipometre: an easy tool for rapid quantification of skin surface lipids in man. Arch Dermatol Res 265: 79Google Scholar
  34. Streifler M, Avrami E, Rabey JM (1980) L-dopa and secretion of sebum in Parkinsonian patients. Eur Neurol 19: 43–48Google Scholar
  35. Takayasu S, Wakinmoto H, Itamis S (1980) Activity of testosterone 5-α-reductase in various tissues of human skin. J Invest Dermatol 74: 187Google Scholar
  36. Thody AJ, Shuster S (1972) Control of sebum secretion by the posterior pituitary. Nature 237: 346Google Scholar
  37. Thody AJ, Shuster C (1975) Control of sebaceous gland function in the rat by β-melanocyte stimulating hormone. J Endocrinol 64: 503Google Scholar
  38. Thody AJ, Cooper ME, Bowden PE (1976) Effect of β-melanocyte stimulating hormone and testosterone on cutaneous and modified sebaceous glands in the rat. J Endocrinol 71: 279Google Scholar
  39. Thody AJ, Meddis D, Shuster S (1978) Increased sebaceous gland activity in the adult rat after melanocyte stimulating hormone treatment during early life. J Invest Dermatol 70: 328Google Scholar
  40. Torre E, Cells ME, Chicchio SR (1984) Alpha-MSH and MIF-1 influence dopamine (DA) uptake on crude synaptosomal preparations from rat mediobasal hypotalamus (BMH) and caudate putamen (CP). Peptides 5: 669–674Google Scholar
  41. Villares JCB, Carlini EA (1989) Sebum secretion in idiopathic Parkinson's disease: effect of anticholinergic and dopaminergic drugs. Acta Neurol Scand 80: 57–63Google Scholar
  42. Wang DY, Bulbrook RD, Guillebaud J, et al (1972) The relation between sebum production and plasma 17-oxosteroid levels in normal women and in patients with breast cancer. Eur J Cancer 8: 381Google Scholar
  43. Wiegnant WM, Cools AR, Gipsen VH (1977) ACTH-induced grooming involves brain dopamine. Eur Pharmacol 41: 343–345Google Scholar
  44. Zlotogorski A, Glaser B, Bercovici B, Dikstein S (1991) Sebum measurements or rapid identification of hyperandrogenysm due to an ovarian Leydig cell tumor. Int J Dermatol 30: 276–277Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Martignoni
    • 1
  • L. Godi
    • 1
  • C. Pacchetti
    • 1
  • E. Berardesca
    • 2
  • G. P. Vignoli
    • 2
  • G. Albani
    • 1
  • F. Mancini
    • 1
  • G. Nappi
    • 1
  1. 1.Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders' Centre, Department of NeurologyIRCCS “C. Mondino”Italy
  2. 2.Dermatological Clinic, IRCCS “S. Matteo”University of PaviaItaly

Personalised recommendations