Acne vulgaris (acne) is a common inflammatory skin disorder, and Propionibacterium acnes plays a major role in the development and progression of acne inflammation. Herbs possessing antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity have been applied as a medical option for centuries. In this study, we examined the suppressive effect of ethanolic oregano (Origanum vulgare) extract on live P. acnes-induced in vivo and in vitro inflammation. Following ethanol extraction of oregano leaves, four compounds with strong antioxidant activity, including rosmarinic acid, quercetin, apigenin, and carvacrol, were identified by high-performance liquid chromatography. Using the mouse ear edema model, we demonstrated that ethanol oregano extracts (EOE) significantly suppressed P. acnes-induced skin inflammation, as measured by ear thickness (32%) and biopsy weight (37%). In a separate study, using the co-culture of P. acnes and human THP-1 monocytes, EOE reduced the production of interleukin (IL)-8, IL-1β and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α up to 40%, 37%, and 18%, respectively, as well as the expression of these three pro-inflammatory mediators at the transcriptional level. Furthermore, EOE inhibited the translocation of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) into the nucleus possibly by inactivating toll-like receptor-2 (TLR2). The suppressive effect of EOE on live P. acnes-induced inflammatory responses could be due, in part, to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but not the anti-microbial effect of EOE.
Keywords: NF-κB; Propionibacterium acnes; TLR2; anti-inflammatory; oregano.