Role of Different Cutibacterium Acnes Strains in Promoting Skin Health

Role of Different Cutibacterium Acnes Strains in Promoting Skin Health

Certain strains of the bacteria Cutibacterium acnes actually prolong the nematode's lifespan and help its innate immune system fight against the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, as revealed by a study on Caenorhabditis elegans.

Cutibacterium acnes, commonly found on the skin and formerly known as Propionibacterium acnes, is associated with various skin conditions, including acne. However, recent research has discovered that not all strains of C. acnes are harmful. Some strains of this bacterium have been found to promote skin health.

Scientists have identified specific beneficial strains of C. acnes that help maintain the skin's natural balance, protect against harmful bacteria, regulate sebum production, reduce inflammation, and support the skin's immune system. These strains contribute to overall skin health.

Moreover, studies have demonstrated that the presence of these beneficial C. acnes strains is linked to healthier skin. Conversely, an imbalance or dysbiosis in the skin microbiome, including an overgrowth of harmful C. acnes strains, can contribute to skin conditions like acne.

Beneficial Cutibacterium acnes Strains Boost Immunity and Lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans

Cutibacterium acnes, a bacterium present on the skin of almost all people, causes acne—a skin condition affecting a significant percentage of adolescents, young adults, and even some adults. Recent advancements in gene sequencing have highlighted the potential impact of genetic variations among bacterial strains on their roles in skin health. This prompted researchers from Osaka City University and Okayama University to investigate the diverse strains of C. acnes and their effects on the skin.

Using Caenorhabditis elegans, a 1mm nematode with a body surface barrier comparable to human skin, the researchers examined several strains of C. acnes isolated from human skin to explore their biological effects. Surprisingly, they discovered that certain strains of this bacterium not only prolonged the nematode's lifespan but also enhanced its innate immune system's ability to combat Staphylococcus aureus—an infectious pathogen responsible for skin infections. Lead author Ayano Tsuru, a graduate student at the Graduate School of Human Life Science, Osaka City University, suggested that C. acnes likely maintains skin health by preventing common pathogens like S. aureus from invading skin tissue.

The researchers categorized the different C. acnes strains based on ribo-type (RT), a classification system utilizing polymorphisms in rRNA. Their findings revealed that RT 4 and 8 strains, commonly found in individuals with acne, reduced the nematode's lifespan, whereas RT6 strains, prevalent in individuals without acne, did not exhibit such effects.

Additionally, the team investigated the impact of C. acnes strains associated with healthy skin on the nematode's susceptibility to S. aureus. The results demonstrated that nematodes infected with the pathogen survived for a longer period compared to the control group. RNA sequencing analysis of gene expression changes revealed that the C. acnes strains associated with healthy skin activated a cluster of genes associated with innate immunity and biological defense responses in C. elegans.


In conclusion, this study sheds light on the beneficial aspects of acne bacteria, challenging their negative perception. By focusing on ribotypes associated with acne absence, the study uncovers the skin health-promoting capabilities of specific strains of C. acnes, which actively combat pathogens like S. aureus.

The use of Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism is a noteworthy aspect of this study. This nematode has emerged as a promising alternative model in epidemiological research, highlighting its utility in investigating the effects of various bacteria on human health.

The implications of this study are extensive and promising. It underscores the need for further research to elucidate the beneficial attributes of acne bacteria and emphasizes the importance of considering strain-level discussions when evaluating the biological effects of specific bacteria. The team is enthusiastic about the potential application of healthy skin-related strains of C. acnes as a "non-drinking probiotic," which could expand the landscape of probiotic research.

Overall, this study represents a significant advancement in our understanding of the different strains of Cutibacterium acnes present on human skin and their role in promoting skin health. The anticipation for future research on this subject and the development of innovative products and therapies to enhance skin health is palpable.

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