Department of Dermatology, Renji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, PR China
Department of Immunology and Microbiology, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai, PR China
Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany
Department of Dermatology, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, PR China
Departments of Dermatology, Venereology, Allergology and Immunology, Dessau Medical Center, Brandenburg Medical School Theodor Fontane, Dessau, Germany
These authors contributed equally
Background: Acne vulgaris is a common pilosebaceous disease associated with Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). Resolution of comedones may occur in association with shrunken sebaceous glands (SGs) containing de-differentiated cells, however the role of P. acnes is unclear. Objectives: To investigate the effects of P. acnes on aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) activation, lipogenesis and differentiation in cultured immortalized human SZ95 sebocytes. Materials & Methods: Cultured sebocytes were incubated with formalin-killed (f-) P. acnes (f-P. acnes) at different ratios of multiplicity of infection. The mRNA levels of the AhR downstream cytochrome P450 (CYP) genes were measured by quantitative RT-PCR, nuclear translocation of AhR by western blot and immunofluorescence, lipogenesis and keratinization by gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA), lipid related analysis by Oil red O staining and Nile red staining, and sebaceous differentiation-related gene expression by western blot. Results: f-P. acnes upregulated CYPs mRNA levels and induced translocation of AhR protein from the cytoplasm into the nucleus. GSEA revealed downregulation of lipogenesis and upregulation of keratinization. f-P. acnes inhibited linoleic acid-induced neutral lipid synthesis and expression of sebocyte markers, keratin 7 and mucin1/EMA, but increased expression of keratinocyte markers, keratin 10 and involucrin, which were abolished by AhR gene silencing. Inhibition of lipogenesis-related genes, such as sterol response element-binding protein, was also observed. Conclusion: f-P. acnes inhibits lipogenesis and induces terminal differentiation of sebocytes, into keratinocyte-like cells, via activation of the AhR pathway in vitro, suggesting that follicular P. acnes is not only acnegenic but also promotes acne remission through feedback regulation of sebum production.