The prevalence and drug sensitivity of Propionibacterium acnes isolated from acne lesions

Agata Pruss, Paweł Kwiatkowski, Helena Masiuk, Stefania Giedrys-Kalemba



Introduction: Propionibacterium acnes is one of many pathogens causing the formation of lesions in acne vulgaris, the most common chronic disease of the skin. It affects most adolescents, but can also occur in newborns, and persists in adults. Acne lesions usually occur around the sebaceous glands on the skin of the face, back and chest. Increased resistance of P. acnes to topical antibiotics is a serious medical problem.

The aim of the study was to determine the frequency of P. acnes in patients with acne depending on age and sex, and to evaluate drug susceptibility of the isolated strains.

Materials and methods: We analyzed the results of tests performed in 470 outpatients with acne at the age of 9–59 years. The material was a discharge containing pus taken from inflammatory changes of the face (64.3%), back (7.6%) and chest (28.1%). Samples were cultured in anaerobic conditions on Schaedler Agar. The strains were tested for susceptibility to erythromycin, clindamycin, tetracycline and doxycycline, according to the EUCAST standards.

Results: Positive cultures for P. acnes were found in 84.0% of patients. The highest proportion of positive culture was observed in the age group 21–30 years old (91.0%) and in >50 years (88.2%), the lowest in patients aged 31–40 (78.2%). P. acnes was isolated more often in men (86.1%) than in women (81.7%). All isolates showed sensitivity to doxycycline, and only 1.5% were resistant to tetracycline. A statistically significant (p ≤ 0.05) increase of resistance to erythromycin and clindamycin, from 29.6% in 2010 to 48.7% in 2014, was observed.

Conclusions: Acne lesions are increasingly observed in adults >21 years old. The prevalence of acne in women and men is comparable. P. acnes strains show good sensitivity to tetracyclines, but the increased resistance to erythromycin and clindamycin is alarming.


Propionibacterium acnes; drug susceptibility; acne

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