Suppression of Propionibacterium acnes-stimulated proinflammatory cytokines by Chinese bayberry extracts and its active constituent myricetin in human sebocytes in vitro

Phytother Res. 2019 Apr;33(4):1104-1113. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6304. Epub 2019 Feb 8.


Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc. (Myricaceae), known as Chinese bayberry, is traditionally used as folk medicine in Asian countries. The interaction of Propionibacterium acnes signalling with sebocytes is considered important in the pathogenesis of acne. In the present study, extracts and active compounds of Chinese bayberry were used to determine chemical antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory effects in P. acnes-stimulated human SZ95 sebocytes. A high-performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection system was used to analyse the phenolic composition of bayberry extracts. Accordingly, the flavonols, myricitrin and myricetin, were found to be abundant in the unhydrolysed and hydrolysed extracts of Chinese bayberry fruits, respectively. The anthocyanin cyanidin-3-glucoside was also predominantly found in the unhydrolysed extracts. Quantification of human inflammatory cytokines indicated that cell-free extracts of P. acnes stimulated IL-8 and IL-6 production, which was inhibited by myricetin, rather than its glycoside or anthocyanin. Myricetin also exhibited inhibitory effects in P. acnes-stimulated gene expression of Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2 and protein phosphorylation of p70 S6 kinase. In conclusion, myricetin shows a suppressive effect on P. acnes-induced cytokine production through regulation of the TLR and mammalian target of rapamycin pathways. Myricetin goes beyond previous research findings to potentially modulate inflammatory signalling in human sebocytes. These results will be valuable in developing anti-inflammatory agents against skin acne.

Keywords: Propionibacterium acnes; Toll-like receptor; bayberry; inflammation; myricetin; sebocytes.

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / drug effects*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology
  • Flavonoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Myrica / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Propionibacterium acnes / drug effects*


  • Cytokines
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Flavonoids
  • Plant Extracts
  • myricetin