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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2015 Feb;34(2):287-301. doi: 10.1007/s10096-014-2228-2. Epub 2014 Aug 30.

Propionibacterium acnes populations involved in deep pathological samples and their dynamics along the cardiac surgical pathway.

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UMR 5119 ECOSYM, Equipe Pathogènes et Environnements, U.F.R. des Sciences Pharmaceutiques et Biologiques, Université Montpellier 1, 15, Avenue Charles Flahault, BP 14491, 34093, Montpellier Cedex 5, France,


Propionibacterium acnes belongs to the normal skin microbiota, but it is also responsible for acne vulgaris and causes serious infections such as endocarditis and surgical site infections (SSI). The P. acnes population is structured into phylogenetic groups, with phylotype I being associated with acne. Herein, we explore the link between phylotypes and clinical origins in a collection of P. acnes isolated from different body sites, involved in deep infections or healthcare-associated infections (HAI), with particular emphasis on strains from cardiac SSI. Cardiac SSI have been further studied in terms of P. acnes population dynamics during the care pathway. The recA and tly genes phylotypes were compared to hemolytic behavior, susceptibility to antimicrobial agents, and clinical origins. An original approach of recA polymerase chain reaction temporal temperature gel electrophoresis (PCR-TTGE) was developed and applied for the direct identification of P. acnes phylotypes in surgical samples, in order to assess their temporal dynamics during the surgical course. Our results underlined the preferential involvement of IA-2/IB and II phylogroups in HAI and SSI. Unlike IA and II, type IA-2/IB presented a gradual increase with the depth of sampling in the peroperative phase of cardiac surgery. Phylotypes IA and IA-2/IB were both predominant in scar tissues and on postoperative skin, suggesting a specific predisposition to recolonize skin. Particular association of the phylotype IA-2/IB with SSI and its propensity to colonize wounds in cardiac surgery was observed. We assumed that the follow-up of P. acnes phylotypes during pathological processes could give new clues for P. acnes pathogenicity.

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