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Journal of Adolescent Health 43 (2008) 421– 424 A Review of Adapalene in the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris Cynthia E. Irby, B.A.a, Brad A. Yentzer, M.D.a, and Steven R. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D.a,b,c,* aDepartment of Dermatology, Center for Dermatology Research, Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Winston-Salem, North Carolina bDepartment of Public Health Sciences, Center for Dermatology Research, Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Winston-Salem, North Carolina cDepartment of Pathology, Center for Dermatology Research, Wake Forest University School of Medicine; Winston-Salem, North Carolina Manuscript received January 7, 2008; manuscript accepted June 9, 2008 Abstract
Topical retinoids help address the early lesions of acne vulgaris. Consensus guidelines advocate theuse of topical retinoids as the primary treatment for most forms of acne vulgaris. However, alltopical retinoid preparations may be irritating, and this may contribute to underutilization in clinicalpractices. Topical adapalene fosters topical retinoid treatment of acne with less irritation. Adapaleneis a more stable molecule than tretinoin. Adapalene can be used without concern for photo-deactivation. Because of its chemical stability, adapalene can be used in combination with benzoylperoxide products. The availability of a stable topical retinoid associated with little irritation mayfacilitate meeting acne treatment consensus guidelines. 2008 Society for Adolescent Medicine.
All rights reserved.
Topical retinoids; Tretinoin; Comedolytic; Anti-inflammatory; Pediatricians The pathophysiology of acne involves four key mecha- palene is a third generation retinoid with minimal side nisms of action: abnormal proliferation and differentiation of effects. Adapalene has become widely used because of its keratinocytes, increased sebum production, hyperproliferation comparable efficacy and favorable tolerability profile when of Propionibacterium acnes, and an inflammatory response initiated by bacterial antigens and cytokines. Topical retinoidstarget the abnormal proliferation and differentiation of keratin- Adapalene for Treatment of Acne Vulgaris
ocytes and also have anti-inflammatory effects. In addition,topical retinoids enhance penetration of other agents, such as topical antibiotics, resulting in synergistic effects Retinoids used for acne therapy include tretinoin, tazaro- Adapalene is available in two formulations: gel (.1%, tene, adapalene, and isotretinoin (systemic). Topical retin- .3%) and cream (.1%). After washing with a gentle cleanser, oids are comedolytic and are successful at inhibiting the a thin layer should be applied once daily in the evening to formation of micro-comedones, the precursor to all acne the entire face and any other affected area approved by the lesions. The first-generation retinoids (retinol, tretinoin, and physician Special care should be taken to avoid the isotretinoin) are irritating, and may limit compliance. Ada- eyes, lips, mucous membranes, and other sensitive areas As retinoids may increase photosensitivity, patients shouldbe instructed to minimize sun exposure and to apply a Potential conflicts of interest: Dr. Feldman has received research, noncomedogenic sunscreen every morning. The safety and speaking and/or consulting support from several manufacturers of topical efficacy in children Ͻ12 years of age have not been deter- retinoids including Galderma, OrthoNeutrogena, and Stiefel. The Centerfor Dermatology Research is supported by an educational grant from mined Adapalene is pregnancy category C and should Galderma Laboratories, L.P. Dr. Yentzer and Ms. Irby have no conflicts to be used with caution in pregnant women.
*Address correspondence to: Steven R. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., Depart- Description and clinical pharmacology ment of Dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Med- Adapalene’s chemical structure is more stable to light ical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1071.
and oxidation compared with tretinoin. In an in vitro 1054-139X/08/$ – see front matter 2008 Society for Adolescent Medicine. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2008.06.005 C.E. Irby et al. / Journal of Adolescent Health 43 (2008) 421– 424 study of adapalene and tretinoin, 95% of tretinoin was Another 12-week study compared adapalene .1% gel to degraded within 24 hours in the presence of sunlight and tretinoin .1% microsphere. At week 4, a greater reduction in benzoyl peroxide, whereas adapalene had essentially no non-inflammatory lesions was observed for the tretinoin degradation under these conditions, even at 72 hours .1% microsphere; however the tretinoin group also had a Unlike generic tretinoin gel, adapalene is formu- greater incidence of skin irritation. Both products had sim- lated in an aqueous gel, which may account for some of ilar efficacies (33% vs. 35% mean total lesion reduction) by the improved tolerability. However, adapalene is also better tolerated than other formulations of tretinoin A new formulation of adapalene in a .3% gel is now available and is even more effective than its .1% predeces- A proposed mechanism for adapalene’s greater tolerabil- sor. Compared with adapalene .1% gel, adapalene .3% gel ity is its selective binding affinity. Unlike tretinoin, ada- showed greater median percent reduction in total lesion palene does not bind to the cytosolic retinoic acid binding (56% vs. 48%; p ϭ .020) and inflammatory lesion counts proteins but instead selectively binds to the nuclear retinoic (63% vs. 58%; p ϭ .015) Both concentration per- acid receptor (RAR) subtypes ␤ and ␥ This selective formed significantly better than gel vehicle (p Ͻ .001).
binding affinity may play a role in adapalene’s greater Currently, there are no head-to-head efficacy comparisons inhibition of keratinocyte differentiation than tretinoin, of adapalene .3% gel to tretinoin gel, cream, or microsphere.
which was demonstrated in a study using keratinocyte trans-glutaminase expression as a marker This inhibition of The value of adapalene for maintenance therapy was keratinocyte differentiation and proliferation is responsible established in a multicenter, randomized, investigator- for adapalene’s comedolytic effect. In an in vivo study, blinded study with a total of 253 subjects. The subjects were adapalene’s ability to reduce comedone formation was dem- successfully treated (at least 50% improvement from base- onstrated by a 50 – 60% reduction in comedone counts com- line) in a previous 12-week study, and were randomized to receive adapalene .1% gel or gel vehicle once daily for 16 Another important factor in acne pathogenesis is the weeks. Adapalene maintenance therapy resulted in higher inflammation that occurs after microcomedone formation.
rates of maintaining at least 50% improvement (75% vs.
Adapalene inhibits the inflammatory response to micro- 54%; p Ͻ .001) and significantly lower lesion counts com- comedone formation and bacterial antigens Ada- palene’s anti-inflammatory effects result from inhibition of Because of the chemical stability of adapalene, it is well neutrophil chemotaxis and the lipoxygenase pathyway, both suited for use in combination with other topicals such as of which are associated with cutaneous inflammatory reac- benzoyl peroxide or antibiotics. The effectiveness of ada- tions Adapalene is more effective at inhibiting neu- palene in combination therapy for the treatment of mild to trophil lipoxygenase than is tretinoin Adapalene also severe acne vulgaris was determined in several studies. In a has other unique anti-inflammatory mechanisms that may multicenter, randomized, investigator-blinded study with a total of 249 subjects, the efficacy and tolerability of thecombination of adapalene .1% gel and topical clindamycin.1% lotion was compared with topical clindamycin .1% Clinical Studies of Adapalene
lotion and gel vehicle for the treatment of mild to moderate acne. The subjects applied adapalene or vehicle gel oncedaily in the evening, and topical clindamycin twice daily for Adapalene is an effective acne treatment. A multicenter, 12 weeks. The combination of adapalene and topical clin- randomized, investigator-blinded study with 297 enrolled damycin was more effective than topical clindamycin alone patients compared the efficacy of adapalene .1% solution to in reducing the total lesions (46.7% vs. 25.5%, p Ͻ .001), that of tretinoin .025% gel in a once-daily dosage regimen inflammatory lesions (55.0% vs. 44.2%, p ϭ .004), and for 12 weeks. Both agents provided significant mean im-provements in inflammatory lesions (47% and 50%, respec- non-inflammatory lesions (42.5% vs. 16.3%, p Ͻ .001) tively), and noninflammatory lesions (57% and 54%) In another multicenter, randomized, investigator- In another multicenter, randomized, investigator-blinded blinded study, 467 patients with severe acne were random- study, 105 patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris ized to receive either the combination of adapalene .1% gel were treated with adapalene .1% gel versus tretinoin .025% and oral doxycycline or gel vehicle and oral doxycycline for gel for 3 months. Adapalene gel was found to be more a duration of 12 weeks. Compared with oral doxycyline efficacious than tretinoin gel after 1 week of treatment, with alone, the combination of adapelene and oral doxycycline respect to a decrease in inflammatory lesions (32% and resulted in a larger reduction in median percent change of 17%, respectively, p ϭ .001) and total lesion counts (28% total lesions (61% vs. 45%, p Ͻ .001), inflammatory lesions and 22%, p ϭ .042); however there was no statistically (65% vs. 59%, p ϭ .02), and non-inflammatory lesions C.E. Irby et al. / Journal of Adolescent Health 43 (2008) 421– 424 week 12 measured on a four-point scale of erythema, peel-ing/scaling, dryness, and stinging/burning were low, rang- In two controlled, randomized, investigator-blinded, in- traindividual comparison studies, the tolerance of adapalene.1% gel was compared with six different tretinoin formula-tions (tretinoin .025%, .05%, and .1% cream; tretinoin .01% Discussion
and .025% gel; and tretinoin .1% gel microsphere) andcontrol (petrolatum). In these studies, adapalene, tretinoin The development of topical retinoids has proved to be formulations, and petrolatum were applied to the back daily essential in the management of acne. As such, our review of followed by occlusion 5 days per week for 3 weeks to adapalene is important from a therapeutic perspective be- evaluate the cumulative irritation potential. The evaluation cause topical retinoids are underutilized in practice of irritancy was based on an eight-point scale accounting for The most compelling predictor of the use or nonuse of dryness, erythema, papular or papulovesicular responses, topical retinoids was physician specialty, with nonderma- edema, and erosions or crusting. Adapalene was signifi- tologists significantly less likely to use topical retinoids than cantly better tolerated than all formulations of tretinoin dermatologists (39.4% vs. 23%) More recent data (including tretinoin microsphere), and was not statistically suggest that there is an even broader disparity in use of different from the control, petrolatum gel (no p value re- topical retinoids between dermatologists and pediatricians.
In one multicenter, randomized, investigator-blinded Physicians may be reluctant to prescribe topical retinoids study, 105 patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris because of the irritating side effects of the earlier retinoids, were treated with adapalene .1% gel versus tretinoin .025% resulting in poor adherence to treatments and complaints gel for 3 months to compare the onset of action, tolerability, about the treatment regimen. Acne treatment regimens may and impact on quality of life. Adapalene was significantly also be complicated by the need to use some retinoids at better tolerated (p Ͻ .05) than tretinoin when evaluated on different times than benzoyl peroxide or sun exposure. Ada- a four-point scale for dryness, erythema, immediate and palene, however, can be used in conjunction with benzoyl persistent burning, and pruritus. Using the DLQI, there was peroxide and sun exposure, with less risk of irritation.
a statistically significant improvement in quality of life for In 2003, an international committee of physicians and both treatment groups (p Ͻ .05). At weeks 1 and 12, there researchers developed the most recent set of guidelines for were improvements in quality of life in favor of adapalene acne management These largely evidence-based rec- for items related to problems with close contacts, skin ommendations advocate targeting as many processes in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris as possible. The consensus The effectiveness and safety of adapalene gel .1% when guidelines state that a topical retinoid should be used as the used with other acne treatments was evaluated in a prospec- primary treatment for mild to moderate acne (including tive, open-label, multicenter, observational, phase 4 study.
inflammatory acne), secondary to its anti-inflammatory Adverse events and tolerability of adapalene gel .1% were properties and its inhibition of the formation of the micro- evaluated in 1864 subjects. Subjects naïve to acne treatment comedone, the precursor to all acne lesions. Therefore top- (n ϭ 1396) received initial combination therapy with ada- ical retinoids target two key mechanisms in the pathogene- palene gel, whereas subjects already on nonretinoid therapy sis of acne. To target three pathogenic factors, it is (n ϭ 468) added adapalene to their existing regimen. The recommended that antimicrobial agents be in used in com- overall rates of moderate to severe cutaneous irritation at bination with topical retinoids when inflammatory lesions Oral antibiotic ϩ topical retinoid ϩ BPOa BPO ϭ benzoyl peroxide; AB ϭ topical antibiotic.
Adapted from Gollnick et al. a For female patients, hormonal therapy (oral contraceptives) may be added.
b For refractory cases only.
C.E. Irby et al. / Journal of Adolescent Health 43 (2008) 421– 424 are present. Oral antibiotics are the drug of choice for [8] Shroot B, Michel S. Pharmacology and chemistry of adapalene. J Am moderate to severe acne, but should be used in combination Acad Dermatol 1997;36(6 Pt 2):S96 –103.
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Several topical retinoid preparations are available that [11] Grosshans E, Marks R, Mascaro JM, et al. Evaluation of clinical can be used in monotherapy and combination regimens that efficacy and safety of adapalene 0.1% gel versus tretinoin 0.025% gel meet acne treatment consensus guidelines. From an eco- in the treatment of acne vulgaris, with particular reference to the onset nomic view, the two leading topical retinoids, adapalene gel of action and impact on quality of life. Br J Dermatol 1998;139(Suppl and tretinoin microsphere, are comparable in price (ϳ150 [12] Nyirady J, Grossman RM, Nighland M, et al. A comparative trial of per 45 g) Similar to the microsphere formulation of two retinoids commonly used in the treatment of acne vulgaris. J tretinoin, the chemical stability of adapalene facilitates its use in combination regimens with topical benzoyl peroxide [13] Thiboutot D, Pariser DM, Egan N, et al. Adapalene gel 0.3% for the products. Although adapalene has similar, and often slightly treatment of acne vulgaris: A multicenter, randomized, double-blind, better, efficacy than other topical retinoids, it is the lack of controlled, phase III trial. J Am Acad Dermatol 2006;54:242–50.
[14] Thiboutot DM, Shalita AR, Yamauchi PS, et al. Adapalene gel, 0.1%, side effects that places adapalene clinically above the rest.
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[4] Galderma Laboratories L.P. Differin (adapalene gel) Gel, 0.3% [18] Balkrishnan R, Fleischer AB Jr, Paruthi S, Feldman SR. Physicians underutilize topical retinoids in the management of acne vulgaris: Analysis of U.S. National Practice Data. J Dermatol Treat 2003;14: [5] Akhavan A, Bershad S. Topical acne drugs: Review of clinical properties, systemic exposure, and safety. Am J Clin Dermatol 2003; [19] Yentzer BA, Irby CE, Fleischer AB, Feldman SR. Differences in acne treatment prescribing patterns of pediatricians and dermatologists: An [6] Martin B, Meunier C, Montels D, Watts O. Chemical stability of analysis of nationally representative data. Pediatr Dermatol 2008. In adapalene and tretinoin when combined with benzoyl peroxide in presence and in absence of visible light and ultraviolet radiation. Br J [20] Gollnick H, Cunliffe W, Berson D, et al. Management of acne: A Dermatol 1998;139(Suppl 52):8 –11.
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