Acne: a new model of immune-mediated chronic inflammatory skin disease

G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2015 Apr;150(2):247-54.


Acne is a chronic inflammatory disease of the sebaceous-pilosebaceous unit. Interestingly, inflammation can be detected by histopathological examination and immuohistochemical analysis even in the apparently non-inflammatory acneic lesions, such as comedones. In the last years, it has been clearly demonstrated that acne development is linked to the combination of predisposing genetic factors and environmental triggers, among which a prominent role is played by the follicular colonization by Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). P. acnes displays several activities able to promote the development of acne skin lesions, including the promotion of follicular hyperkeratinisation, the induction of sebogenesis, and the stimulation of an inflammatory response by the secretion of proinflammatory molecules and by the activation of innate immunity, that is followed by a P. acnes-specific adaptive immune response. In addition, P. acnes-independent inflammation mediated by androgens or by a neurogenic activation, followed by the secretion in the skin of pro-inflammatory neuropeptides, can occur in acne lesions. In conclusion, acne can be considered as a model of immune-mediated chronic inflammatory skin disease, characterized by an innate immune response that is not able to control P. acnes followed by a Th1-mediated adaptive immune response, that becomes self-maintaining independently from P. acnes itself.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acne Vulgaris / genetics
  • Acne Vulgaris / microbiology
  • Acne Vulgaris / pathology*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Propionibacterium acnes / isolation & purification
  • Skin Diseases / genetics
  • Skin Diseases / microbiology
  • Skin Diseases / pathology*