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Lasers Surg Med. 2019 Mar 28. doi: 10.1002/lsm.23087. [Epub ahead of print]

Propionibacterium acnes susceptibility to low-level 449 nm blue light photobiomodulation.

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Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The Johnson and Johnson Skin Research Center, Johnson and Johnson Consumer Inc. Skillman, Skillman, New Jersey.



Recent advances in low-level light devices have opened new treatment options for mild to moderate acne patients. Light therapies have been used to treat a variety of skin conditions over the years but were typically only available as treatments provided by professional clinicians. Clinical application of blue light has proven to be effective for a broader spectral range and at lower fluences than previously utilized. Herein, we tested the hypothesis that sub-milliwatt/cm2 levels of long-wave blue light (449 nm) effectively kills Propionibacterium acnes, a causative agent of acne vulgaris, in vitro.


Two types of LED light boards were designed to facilitate in vitro blue light irradiation to either six-well plates containing fluid culture or a petri plate containing solid medium. P. acnes. Survival was determined by counting colony forming units (CFU) following irradiation. P. acnes was exposed in the presence and absence of oxygen. Coproporphyrin III (CPIII) photoexcitation was spectrophotometrically evaluated at 415 and 440 nm to compare the relative photochemical activities of these wavelengths.


422 and 449 nm blue light killed P. acnes in planktonic culture. Irradiation with 449 nm light also effectively killed P. acnes on a solid agar surface. Variation of time or intensity of light exposure resulted in a fluence-dependent improvement of antimicrobial activity. The presence of oxygen was necessary for killing of P. acnes with 449 nm light. CPIII displayed clear photoexcitation at both 415 and 440 nm, indicating that both wavelengths are capable of initiating CPIII photoexcitation at low incident light intensities (50 uW/cm2 ).


Herein we demonstrate that sub-milliwatt/cm2 levels of long-wave blue light (449 nm) effectively kill P. acnes. The methods and results presented allow for deeper exploration and design of light therapy treatments. Results from these studies are expanding our understanding of the mode of action and functionality of blue light, allowing for improved options for acne patients. Lasers Surg. Med. © 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


C. acnes; P. acnes; blue light; low dose; low-level light therapy; photobiomodulation; porphyrin


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