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Infect Immun. 1995 Aug;63(8):3158-65.

Induction of proinflammatory cytokines by a soluble factor of Propionibacterium acnes: implications for chronic inflammatory acne.

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Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-6142, USA.


Although many cytokines have been implicated in the development and persistence of inflammatory immune responses, it is unknown if any of these are important in inflammatory acne. This study investigated the production of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-8 (IL-8), IL-1 beta, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) by human monocytic cell lines, ThP-1 and U937, and by freshly isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from acne patients. Both Propionibacterium acnes and supernatants obtained from 72-h P. acnes cultures could induce significant concentrations of IL-1 beta, TNF-alpha, and IL-8 by both cell lines and by peripheral blood mononuclear cells as determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. There was no significant difference between acne and non-acne subjects. Endotoxin quantification and addition of polymyxin B to assays indicated no lipopolysaccharide (LPS) contamination. P. acnes supernatant was fractionated into components with molecular weights of < 3,000, < 10,000, and < 30,000 and assayed for the ability to induce IL-8 and TNF production in ThP-1 cells. Nearly 90% of the original activity was found in the < 30,000-molecular-weight fraction, 50% was in the < 10,000-molecular-weight fraction, and only 15% remained in the < 3,000-molecular-weight fraction. The effluent from the < 3,000-molecular-weight fraction contained about 70% activity, indicating that the inducing factor was not retained in the membrane. Incubation of P. acnes supernatant with various concentrations of mutanolysin or lysozyme resulted in a loss of 60% of the original activity. The addition of jimson lectin, which binds peptidoglycan, resulted in a loss of 70% of the activity in a dose-response manner, whereas peanut lectin had little or no effect on the activity. Heating of the P. acnes supernatant to 65 degrees C also had no effect on the activity. Blocking of CD14, a receptor for both LPS and peptidoglycan, reduced cytokine production by > 50%, suggesting that the soluble stimulating factor may be a secreted form of peptidoglycan-polysaccharide.

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