Nav: Home

An unbalanced microbiome on the face may be key to acne development

April 05, 2017

Today at the Microbiology Society's Annual Conference, researchers will show that the overall balance of the bacteria on a person's skin, rather than the presence or absence of a particular bacterial strain, appears to be an important factor for acne development and skin health.

Acne vulgaris is a common skin condition that affects 80%-85% of people at some point in their lives. While acne is a disease of hair follicles on the skin, the exact causes of the condition are unclear. The bacterium Propionibacterium acnes has long been associated with acne, but with P. acnes being the most prevalent and abundant species in the follicle in both healthy and acned individuals, its role in acne has not been well understood.

Researchers, led by Dr Huiying Li, an associate professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, used over-the-counter pore cleansing strips to obtain skin follicle samples from 72 individuals: 38 with acne and 34 who didn't have the disease. The team then used a technique called DNA shotgun sequencing analysis to identify and compare the make-up of the skin microbiome of the two groups, and further validated the findings in an additional 10 individuals.

The researchers were able to detect differences in skin bacteria composition, pinpointing fine genetic differences between the P. acnes strains of the two clinical groups. In the healthy group, the bacterial community was enriched with genes related to bacterial metabolism, which are thought to be important in preventing harmful bacteria from colonising the skin.

In contrast, the acne group contained higher levels of virulence-associated genes, including those relating to the production and transport of pro-inflammatory compounds such as bacterial toxins that are potentially harmful to the skin. Based on the profiles of these genomic elements, the team was able to predict the health status of the individuals with high accuracy.

Dr Li said of the research: "This study suggests that the make-up of the bacteria in the follicles can reflect, as well as influence, the skin condition in acne or healthy skin".

This study provides new insights into the microbial mechanisms behind acne development and suggests that targeted treatments to modulate the skin microbiota and maintain a healthy bacterial balance may be preferable over antibiotic usage, which can unselectively kill both harmful and beneficial skin bacteria. These treatments could include probiotic supplementation or phage therapy that selectively targets specific bacterial strains.

Dr Emma Barnard, a researcher in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who is presenting the work at the Conference said: "Understanding the bacterial community on the skin is important for the development of personalised treatments in acne. Instead of killing all bacteria, including the beneficial ones, we should focus on shifting the balance toward a healthy microbiota by targeting harmful bacteria or enriching beneficial bacteria."
-end-


Microbiology Society

Related Bacteria Articles:

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.
Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.
Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.
Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.
Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.
How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.
The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?
Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.
Bacteria uses viral weapon against other bacteria
Bacterial cells use both a virus -- traditionally thought to be an enemy -- and a prehistoric viral protein to kill other bacteria that competes with it for food according to an international team of researchers who believe this has potential implications for future infectious disease treatment.
Drug diversity in bacteria
Bacteria produce a cocktail of various bioactive natural products in order to survive in hostile environments with competing (micro)organisms.
More Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.