Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes) is the relatively slow-growing, typically aerotolerant anaerobic Gram-positive bacterium (rod) linked to the skin condition of acne.
C. acnes bacteria predominantly live deep within follicles and pores, although they are also found on the surface of healthy skin.
Rapid growth of C. acnes in follicles can trigger inflammation. This inflammation can lead to the symptoms associated with some common skin disorders, such as folliculitis and acne vulgaris. The damage caused by C. acnes and the associated inflammation make the affected tissue more susceptible to colonization by opportunistic bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus.
C. acnes has also been found in corneal ulcers, and is a common cause of chronic endophthalmitis following cataract surgery. Rarely, it infects heart valves leading to endocarditis, and infections of joints (septic arthritis) have been reported. Furthermore, Cutibacterium species have been found in ventriculostomy insertion sites, and areas subcutaneous to suture sites in patients who have undergone craniotomy. It is a common contaminant in blood and cerebrospinal fluid cultures. C. acnes has been found in herniated discs and in bronchoalveolar lavage of approximately 70% of patients with sarcoidosis.
C. acnes is an opportunistic pathogen, causing a range of postoperative and device-related infections e.g., surgery, post-neurosurgical infection, joint prostheses, shunts and prosthetic heart valves. C. acnes may play a role in other conditions, including SAPHO (synovitis, acne, pustulosis, hyperostosis, osteitis) syndrome, sarcoidosis and sciatica. It is also suspected a main bacterial source of neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease brains.