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Int J Cosmet Sci. 2016 Feb;38(1):85-92. doi: 10.1111/ics.12263. Epub 2015 Aug 30.

Evaluation of anti-acne properties of phloretin in vitro and in vivo.

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Biospectrum Life Science Institute, Sangdaewon-Dong, Seongnam City, 442-13, Gyeonggi Do, Korea.



This study aimed to investigate the anti-acne properties of phloretin in vitro and in vivo.


Anti-microbial activity against Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), Propionibacterium granulosum (P. granulosum) and Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis) were observed by the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and disc diffusion methods. The anti-inflammatory effects were studied in HaCaT cells based on P. acnes-induced inflammatory mediators, including PGE2 and COX-2, examined through enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and luciferase reporter gene assay. Thirty healthy subjects with whiteheads participated in the clinical study. Comedo counting, and the amount of sebum and porphyrin were measured before treatment and following 4 consecutive weeks of treatment with phloretin.


Phloretin showed anti-microbial activities against P. acnes, P. granulosum, S. epidermidis with the MIC of 0.5, 0.5 and 0.25 mg mL(-1) , respectively. P. acnes-induced activation of the COX-2 promoter was markedly attenuated by phloretin treatment. Consistent with these results, inhibition of PGE2 production was also observed. In 1-month, placebo-controlled trials, phloretin showed clinically and statistically significant reduction of comedo counts and sebum output level. Compared to before treatment, whiteheads, blackheads, papules, sebum output level and amount of sebum and porphyrin were significantly decreased at 4 weeks in the test group.


This study revealed that phloretin inhibits the growth of P. acnes, P. granulosum, and S. epidermidis. In addition, we demonstrated that phloretin attenuates COX-2 and PGE2 expression during the P. acnes-induced upregulation of inflammatory signalling. Clinical studies further suggested that treatment with formulations containing phloretin confers anti-acne benefits. Based on these results, we suggest that phloretin may be introduced as a possible acne-mitigating agent.


anti-inflammation; anti-microbial activity; clinical study; phloretin

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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