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Int J Med Microbiol. 2018 Dec;308(8):1027-1035. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmm.2018.09.005. Epub 2018 Sep 22.

Comparative analyses of biofilm formation among different Cutibacterium acnes isolates.

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Institute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz, Humboldtstraße 50, A-8010, Graz, Austria.
ORIGIMM Biotechnology GmbH, Vienna, Austria.
Institute of Infectiology, Center for Molecular Biology of Inflammation (ZMBE), University of Münster, Münster, Germany.
Institute of Molecular Biosciences, University of Graz, Humboldtstraße 50, A-8010, Graz, Austria; BioTechMed, Graz, Austria. Electronic address:


The Gram-positive anaerobic bacterium Cutibacterium acnes is a commensal of the human skin, but also an opportunistic pathogen that contributes to the pathophysiology of the skin disease acne vulgaris. Moreover, C. acnes, in addition to other skin-colonizing bacteria such as S. epidermidis and S. aureus, is an emerging pathogen of implant-associated infections. Notably, C. acnes isolates exhibit marked heterogeneity and can be divided into at least 6 phylotypes by multilocus sequence typing. It is becoming increasingly evident that biofilm formation is a relevant factor for C. acnes virulence, but information on biofilm formation by diverse C. acnes isolates is limited. In this study we performed a first comparative analysis of 58 diverse skin- or implant-isolates covering all six C. acnes phylotypes to investigate biofilm formation dynamics, biofilm morphology and attachment properties to abiotic surfaces. The results presented herein suggest that biofilm formation correlates with the phylotype, rather than the anatomical isolation site. IA1 isolates, particularly SLST sub-types A1 and A2, showed highest biofilm amounts in the microtiter plate assays, followed by isolates of the IC, IA2 and II phylotypes. Microscopic evaluation revealed well-structured three-dimensional biofilms and relatively high adhesive properties to abiotic surfaces for phylotypes IA1, IA2 and IC. Representatives of phylotype III formed biofilms with comparable biomass, but with less defined structures, whereas IB as well as II isolates showed the least complex three-dimensional morphology. Proteinase K- and DNase I-treatment reduced attachment rates of all phylotypes, therefore, indicating that extracellular DNA and proteins are critical for adhesion to abiotic surfaces. Moreover, proteins seem to be pivotal structural biofilm components as mature biofilms of all phylotypes were proteinase K-sensitive, whereas the sensitivity to DNase I-treatment varied depending on the phylotype.


Acne vulgaris; Attachment; Cutibacterium acnes; Implant; Phylotypes; Propionibacterium acnes; Skin

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