Microbiome Helps Level the Acne Playing Field


A balanced microbiome is the key to unlock some of acne’s mysteries, according to a study in Scientific Reports. Despite the many causes of acne—such as hormonal and genetic factors—the skin microbiome profile could be as accurate as 85% in predicting the clinical status of the skin. Researchers suggest creating microbiome-based markers to aid estheticians and dermatologists in acne diagnosis and treatment.

The study looked at Propionibacterium acnes (P.acnes), a bacteria that is necessary for skin health while playing a role in the development of the disease. The short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) produced by P.acnes are antimicrobial and ward off pathogens while helping skin to maintain a low pH.

“It’s not just the presence or absence of a particular strain, but the balance of all the microbes in the skin microbiome,” said Huiyling Li, Ph.D., senior author.

The Study

Researchers analyzed facial skin follicle samples of 72 individuals, of which 38 were found to have acne. The study used a shotgun metagenomic sequencing analysis to find that the acne patients showed only 88.5% abundance of P.acnes in their microbiome—compared to 93.85% in healthy patients—along with an abundance of the bacterial species Propionibacterium granulosum in acne patients. An additional 10 individuals were analyzed to test the microbiome’s prediction accuracy.

In addition, the microbiome of older and younger individuals was found to be comparable, while the skin of healthy individuals was more enriched in other genes necessary for bacterial growth. Existing research on the skin microbiome’s relation to skin diseases, such as psoriasis and eczema delivered similar results.

“The goal is to restore the balance of the skin microbiome, such as by potential topical probiotic treatment or phage therapy, which can be more specific and targeted than antibiotics. Antibiotics can kill both harmful and beneficial skin bacteria non-selectively,” said Li.

Read more about the microbiome’s relation to acne at dermatologytimes.com (source).

More in Physiology