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J Invest Dermatol. 2011 Jan;131(1):59-66. doi: 10.1038/jid.2010.281. Epub 2010 Oct 7.

Propionibacterium acnes activates the IGF-1/IGF-1R system in the epidermis and induces keratinocyte proliferation.

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INSERM U892, 9 Quai Moncousu, Nantes, France.


Propionibacterium acnes has a major role in the development of acne lesions. IGF-1 stimulates the proliferation of keratinocytes via an activation of the IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R). Zinc has been proven to work efficiently against inflammatory acne and to modulate the IGF-1 system. Our objectives were to study the modulation of IGF-1 and IGF-1R expression by P. acnes extracts and to determine their modulation by zinc gluconate. In vivo, we analyzed biopsies of acne lesions and healthy skin, and in vitro we used skin explants incubated with two P. acnes extracts--membrane fraction (MF) and cytosolic proteins--with or without zinc. IGF-1 and IGF-1R expression was evaluated using immunohistochemistry, and the IGF-1 production in supernatants was measured by ELISA. Then, IGF-1 and IGF-1R mRNA levels were analyzed using quantitative PCR on normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEKs). IGF-1 and IGF-1R were overexpressed in acne lesions. MF increased IGF-1 and IGF-1R expression in the epidermis of explants and was associated with an overexpression of both Ki-67 and filaggrin. Zinc had the effect of downregulating IGF-1 and IGF-1R levels. These observations were confirmed at the mRNA level for IGF-1R in NHEKs. These results demonstrate that P. acnes can induce the formation of comedones by stimulating the IGF/IGF-1R system. Moreover, zinc downregulates this pathway.

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