oa Journal of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes in South Africa - The prevalence and clinical significance of acanthosis nigricans in diabetic and non-diabetic women of mixed ancestry : research

Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1608-9677
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1009



The purpose of this study was to improve our understanding of the prevalence of acanthosis nigricans (AN) and its clinical relevance in our mixed-ancestry population and to investigate its association with abnormal glucose metabolism, obesity and hypertension.

This was a cross-sectional study.
A total of 390 healthy mixed-ancestry females were recruited from the dermatology outpatient clinic at Tygerberg Hospital.
A short questionnaire was administered, whereafter participants were inspected for the presence and degree of AN. Height, weight, blood pressure and random fingerpick blood glucose were measured.
AN was observed in 30% ( = 116) of participants, and most commonly found in the nape of the neck (94%, = 109). Participants with AN were younger ( = 0.005), and of higher body mass ( < 0.001) with a higher random blood glucose ( = 0.04). AN was more commonly seen in diabetics ( = 0.004). The presence and severity of AN in the neck correlated far better with BMI and blood glucose than other sites, including the axilla.
AN was found to be extremely common, with a prevalence of 30% in this group. An association with blood glucose levels, diabetes and obesity was demonstrated, proving that it is not just a normal ethnic phenomenon. No association with blood pressure or hypertension was found.

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