Induction of a chemoattractive proinflammatory cytokine response after stimulation of keratinocytes with Propionibacterium acnes and coproporphyrin III

Br J Dermatol. 2005 Jul;153(1):66-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2005.06530.x.


Background: The inflammation in acne vulgaris is widely thought to be induced by an immunological reaction, but the role of Propionibacterium acnes is unclear.

Objectives: To examine the local host response mechanism of a keratinocyte cell line 3 h and 6 h after stimulation with viable and heat-killed P. acnes.

Methods: The quantitative expression of cytokines was measured at the mRNA level by real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.

Results: The coincubation of a keratinocyte cell line with viable, but not heat-killed, P. acnes modulated an adequate cytokine response for interleukin (IL)-1beta, granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor and IL-8. High-performance liquid chromatographic analysis of the in vivo porphyrin pattern secreted by P. acnes revealed a predominance of coproporphyrin III in acne lesions. This same porphyrin fraction also modestly induced IL-8 expression by keratinocytes.

Conclusions: This cytokine pattern may favour a chemotactic response and implicates P. acnes and coproporphyrin III in the recruitment of inflammatory cells to the site of infection and in the development of acne lesions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / immunology*
  • Acne Vulgaris / metabolism
  • Acne Vulgaris / microbiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Chemotactic Factors / immunology
  • Coproporphyrins / biosynthesis
  • Coproporphyrins / immunology*
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Keratinocytes / immunology*
  • Propionibacterium acnes / immunology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Skin / metabolism


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Chemotactic Factors
  • Coproporphyrins
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • RNA, Messenger
  • coproporphyrin III