Researchers have found a way to alter the skin microbiome and reduce inflammation using lactobacilli to treat acne.
The findings were published in Cell Reports Medicine (Feb. 15, 2022; 3(2):100521).
In a press release the authors of the paper note that researchers have been exploring probiotic alteration of the skin microbiome as an alternative to antibiotics to manage pro-inflammatory microbial strains.
“Lactobacilli are well-documented safe and beneficial bacteria that produce lactic acid as a broad-acting antimicrobial molecule that can inhibit the growth and activity of a wide array of competing bacteria,” said the study’s lead author Sarah Lebeer, PhD, in the release. “They can also often reduce inflammation in different conditions. Therefore, we suspected they could work for this purpose even though they’re not highly abundant on the skin.”
Dr. Lebeer is a professor in the Department of Bioscience Engineering, University of Antwerp, Belgium.
The investigators selected three lactobacilli strains—Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus GG, L. plantarum WCFS1, and Lactiplantibacillus pentosus KCA1—and developed a cream with micro-capsules containing the microorganisms.
In both a pilot study and a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, the researchers asked people with mild-to-moderate acne to apply the cream on a daily basis. The intervention successfully reduced inflammatory lesions on the subjects’ skin. It also modulated the cutaneous microbiome, in part by reducing the relative abundance of staphylococci.
Even after the participants discontinued application of the cream, the reduction in acne symptoms persisted for several weeks. The researchers say this observation suggests that the trio of bacteria act, at least partially, by modulating the immune system. Dr. Lebeer concludes that more research is needed on the mode of action of these bacteria for the treatment of acne.