Antibody response to crude cell lysate of propionibacterium acnes and induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines in patients with acne and normal healthy subjects

J Microbiol. 2004 Jun;42(2):117-25.


Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) plays an important role in the disease pathogenesis of acne vulgaris, a disorder of pilosebaceous follicles, seen primarily in the adolescent age group. In the present study, the presence of antibodies against P. acnes (MTCC1951) were detected in acne patient (n=50) and disease free controls (n=25) using dot-ELISA and Western blot assay. The ability of P. acnes to induce pro-inflammatory cytokines by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), obtained from acne patients and healthy subjects, were also analysed. The patients (n=26) who were culture positive for skin swab culture, were found to have a more advanced disease and higher antibody titres (1:4000 to > 1:16000) compared to the P. acnes negative patients (n=24) and normal controls (n=25). An analysis of patients' sera by western blot assay recognized a number of antigenic components of P. acnes, ranging from 29 to 205 kDa. The major reactive component was an approximately 96 kDa polypeptide, which was recognised in 92% (24 of 26) of the patients sera. Further, the P. acnes culture supernatant, crude cell lysate and heat killed P. acnes whole cells, obtained from 72-h incubation culture, were observed to be able to induce significant amounts of IL-8 and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) by the PBMCs in both the healthy subjects and patients, as analysed by cytokine-ELISA. The levels of cytokines were significantly higher in the patients than the healthy subjects. A major 96 kDa polypeptide reactant was eluted from the gel and was found to cause dose dependent stimulation of the productions of IL-8 and TNF-alpha. Thus, the above results suggest that both humoral and pro-inflammatory responses play major roles in the pathogenesis of acne.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / immunology*
  • Acne Vulgaris / microbiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Antigens, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Bacterial Proteins / immunology
  • Bacterial Proteins / isolation & purification
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cytokines / analysis*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-8 / analysis
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism
  • Male
  • Propionibacterium acnes / immunology*
  • Propionibacterium acnes / isolation & purification
  • Propionibacterium acnes / pathogenicity*
  • Skin / microbiology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / analysis


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-8
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha