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Int J Dermatol. 2003 Dec;42(12):925-7.

Microbiology's principle of biofilms as a major factor in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris.

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Department of Medicine, Brown Medical Schools Hospitals, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.


Propionibacterium acnes reside within the pilosebaceous unit in a biofilm. As such, they live in a community of bacteria that encase themselves within an extracellular polysaccharide lining, which the organisms secrete after adherence to the surface. This gylcocalyx polymer acts as a protective exoskeleton and serves as a physical barrier, limiting effective antimicrobial concentrations within the biofilm microenvironment. The gylcocalyx polymer secreted by P. acnes as a biofilm may explain the immunogenicity of the organism as well as the clinical course of the disease. The P. acnes' biofilm model explains many aspects of acne pathogenesis and therapy, including why prolonged antibiotic treatment is needed, why antibiotic resistance is not a reliable assessment of treatment outcome, why accutane offers long-lasting effectiveness, and why benzoyl peroxide radicals are beneficial. This microbiologic principle of biofilms as applied to acne leads to numerous new pathways of assessment and exploration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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