Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

The Reason For Rosecea Solved

If you aren’t personally affected by the skin condition rosacea, you might not even know what it is. However, it affects over 45 million people worldwide, mostly fair-skinned people of European descent. At first, it is characterized by blotchy flushing on the face/neck regions, but eventually causes semi-permanent redness, dialation of blood vessels in the face, itchy eyes, burning sensations, and bumps (see below). Obviously, not pleasant.


The reason underlying this condition has only just recently been pinpointed by Richard Gallo’s group, published this week in Nature Medicine. In a nutshell, patients with rosacea have higher than normal levels of a peptide called cathelicidin as well as stratum corneum tryptic enzymes. Most of the cathelicidin that rosacea patients possess is abnormal, the result of incorrect processing steps, and fundamentally different in structure than what normal people have. The stratum corneum tryptic (SCT) enzymes are responsible for the abnormal post-translational processing.

Gallo’s group confirmed this theory by injecting mice with cathelicidin proteins plus SCT enzymes and increasing protease activity through a targeted deletion of the serine protease inhibitor Spink5. These mice exhibited abnormal processing of cathelicidin and rosacea-like symptoms. Interestingly, one of the most common treatments for rosacea is tetracycline, which inhibits cathelicidin processing and was first prescribed due to its antibacterial effects.


  1. #1 gary jau
    August 6, 2007

    tell more about it please

  2. #2 Herb West
    August 6, 2007

    Is rosacea naturally ocurring in mice? Did the mouse model of rosacea have it only on the face too? Does it not matter that mouse skin is covered in fur?

  3. #3 Anne-Marie
    August 6, 2007

    Really interesting news! I’m not that familiar with rosacea, does it run in families (and if so is it dominant or recessive) or is it just a random mutation?

  4. #4 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    August 7, 2007

    The Reason For Rosecea Solved

    No, that’s the mechanism of rosacea. The reason for rosacea is that God is displeased with certain people.

    SB: Quite true. Take care lest ye be smote! 🙂

  5. #5 Russell Blackford
    August 13, 2007

    Only 45 million? I’d bet that the number of people who have it to a mild degree is much higher than that. I’ve become sensitised to it lately, and I now see a helluva lot of people who have what I’d guess is mild, probably undiagnosed rosacea.

  6. #6 Monado
    August 19, 2007

    Is it triggered by alcohol? Does it have anything to do with the red roses of heavy drinkers?

  7. #7 Rose Condon
    September 3, 2007

    Now that Dr. Robert Gallo has found the reason for rosecea, has he or anyone else found a cure?

  8. #8 Carly
    November 1, 2007

    I was recently diagnosed with rocecea type II and I am trying hard to get it under control, I just turned 30 and had a baby, I also wonder if it’s onset was triggered by hormones??

  9. #9 Melatoninamyers
    January 22, 2008

    emotional distress also aggravates rosacea

  10. #10 tnotes
    January 26, 2008

    emotional stress, hormones…any kind of internal fueding can result eventually in redness in the skin and problems. I promise you:

    Eat only alkaline

    Eat less and drink lots of water

    Let your body DETOX for atleast a couple weeks

    Use some ZenMed topical creams

    I think thats the best treatment you can get, as said medications and pharmaceutical stuff only masks the problem. The real problem affects all in the body, and all the internal organs, not just the facial vessels…its that you can most easily see facial blood vessels because they are closest to the skin. This is also why eating only alkaline diet and living foods will increase overall well being of rosacea sufferers IMMENSELY if followed.

    Hold in there everybody, anybody, love yourself AND TREAT YOURSELF with love, and you will heal any problem with patience.

    Hope this helps. take care

  11. #11 Gwen Hewison
    January 13, 2010

    Hi I suffer from rosecea which has got worse over the years none of my doctors picked it up till i mentioned it even though it was obvious ! I was given cream to apply for 9 weeks which hasnt had much affect, but what I have noticed is when I take max strength flu capsules, my face becomes 99% clearer and the reddness subsides. I have taken them over the last 3yr, about twice a year when i get cold or flu symtoms and they do actully work for some reason!!!

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