Propionic Acid Produced by Propionibacterium acnes Strains Contributes to Their Pathogenicity
Gábor Tax, Edit Urbán, Zsuzsanna Palotás, Róbert Puskás, Zoltán Kónya, Tamás Bíró, Lajos Kemény, Kornélia Szabó
Propionibacterium acnes is an important member of the skin microbiome. The bacterium can initiate signalling events and changes in cellular properties in keratinocytes. The aim of this study was to analyse the effect of the bacterium on an immortalized human keratinocyte cell line. The results show that various P. acnes strains affect the cell-growth properties of these cells differentially, inducing cytotoxicity in a strain-specific and dose-dependent manner. We propose that bacterially secreted propionic acid may contribute to the cytotoxic effect. This acid has a role in maintaining skin pH and exhibits antimicrobial properties, but may also have deleterious effects when the local concentration rises due to excessive bacterial growth and metabolism. These results, together with available data from the literature, may provide insight into the dual role of P. acnes in healthy skin and during pathogenic conditions, as well as the key molecules involved in these functions.