Immunohistochemical analysis of steroid hormone receptors in hidradenitis suppurativa

Mathijs G. Buimer*, Theo Wobbes, Jean H.G. Klinkenbijl, Michel M.P.J. Reijnen, Willeke A.M. Blokx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Background: 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. Methods: 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. Results: 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. Conclusions: 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-132
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Dermatopathology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • androgen receptor
  • apocrine gland
  • etiology
  • hidradenitis suppurativa


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