Topical application of probiotics in skin: adhesion, antimicrobial and antibiofilm in vitro assays

J Appl Microbiol. 2017 Feb;122(2):450-461. doi: 10.1111/jam.13349. Epub 2016 Dec 12.


Aims: When skin dysbiosis occurs as a result of skin disorders, probiotics can act as modulators, restoring microbial balance. Several properties of selected probiotics were evaluated so that their topical application could be considered.

Methods and results: Adhesion, antimicrobial, quorum sensing and antibiofilm assays were carried out with several probiotic strains and tested against selected skin pathogens. All tested strains displayed significant adhesion to keratin. All lactobacilli with the exception of Lactobacillus delbrueckii, showed antimicrobial activity against skin pathogens, mainly due to organic acid production. Most of them also prevented biofilm formation, but only Propioniferax innocua was able to break down mature biofilms.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates that although all tested probiotics adhered to human keratin, they showed limited ability to prevent adhesion of some potential skin pathogens. Most of the tested probiotics successfully prevented biofilm formation, suggesting that they may be successfully used in the future as a complement to conventional therapies in the treatment of a range of skin disorders.

Significance and impact of study: The topically used probiotics may be a natural, targeted treatment approach to several skin disorders and a complement to conventional therapies which present many undesirable side effects.

Keywords: Staphylococci; antimicrobials; biofilms; probiotics; quorum sensing.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Bacterial Adhesion*
  • Biofilms / drug effects
  • Dysbiosis / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Keratins / metabolism
  • Lactobacillus* / classification
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Quorum Sensing / drug effects
  • Skin / microbiology*
  • Skin Diseases / pathology


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Keratins