Acne bug could be the cause of your infections

January 12, 2011

A bacterium which causes acne and is commonly found on the skin, is now known to cause infections all over the body. Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) has been associated with infections of artificial joints and heart valves (endocarditis), as well as eye infections and chest infections -- which are common at this time of year.

Previously, researchers thought the detection of P. acnes at the site of these infections was due to contamination from the skin. For example, an infection at a site within the body after surgery, could have been caused by bacteria transferred to an open wound from the skin during an operation. But recent research has contradicted this, suggesting P. acnes already within the body, may be the cause. Although it is often disregarded as a harmless bystander when found in blood and tissue swabs taken from patients, we should not rule out this bug in the diagnosis of disease.

People who are wrongly diagnosed may go on to develop complications of their infection if the wrong bug is the target for treatment. So it is vital that infection with P.acnes is not ignored, and that the public are made aware of this overlooked bug.

Professor Peter Lambert, expert in P.acnes infection from Aston University said: "it is important to recognise that this organism has the ability to grow slowly inside our body cells as well as on the surface of medical devices in the body. It has long been associated with common acne, where it contributes to the and pain. Recent studies show that it might also be involved in other important conditions such as ".

More information: On 12 January 2011, 10.30am Professor Peter Lambert will present the Denver Russell Memorial lecture at the Society for Applied Microbiology Winter Meeting 2011: "Propionibacterium acnes: an emerging pathogen".

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2 comments

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Moebius
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2011
Maybe now more research will go into killing this bug that causes so much pain to so many people from just the skin problems.
GeeDoubleYa
5 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2011
P. acnes has life-ending implications for many who have been inadequately diagnosed or treated.

Sarcoidosis, for example, is an immune system disease and P. acnes has been identified as a causal agent (or co-factor) in mouse models. Diagnosis in humans is visually determined from biopsies of affected tissues (culturing P. acnes is slow and difficult, and bacteria are not generally believed to have a role in this disease). Corticosteroids and other immune-suppressive therapies are routinely used to treat the effects of this disease. Treating effects only wastes time and money.

This bacterium (a suspected root cause) is responsive to existing, appropriate, readily available, and inexpensive antibiotic treatments. And while it would be preferential to somehow correct the underlying defect in the immune system (the other co-factor or root cause in this disease), killing off the bacterium would at least allow the patient to enter remission.

Thank you and good luck, Prof. Lambert.

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