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A Precision Microbiome Approach Using Sucrose for Selective Augmentation of Staphylococcus epidermidis Fermentation against Propionibacterium acnes


Acne dysbiosis happens when there is a microbial imbalance of the over-growth of Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) in the acne microbiome. In our previous study, we demonstrated that Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis, a probiotic skin bacterium) can exploit glycerol fermentation to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which have antimicrobial activities to suppress the growth of P. acnes. Unlike glycerol, sucrose is chosen here as a selective fermentation initiator (SFI) that can specifically intensify the fermentation activity of S. epidermidis, but not P. acnes. A co-culture of P. acnes and fermenting S. epidermidis in the presence of sucrose significantly led to a reduction in the growth of P. acnes. The reduction was abolished when P. acnes was co-cultured with non-fermenting S. epidermidis. Results from nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis revealed four SCFAs (acetic acid, butyric acid, lactic acid, and succinic acid) were detectable in the media of S. epidermidis sucrose fermentation. To validate the interference of S. epidermidis sucrose fermentation with P. acnes, mouse ears were injected with both P. acnes and S. epidermidis plus sucrose or phosphate buffered saline (PBS). The level of macrophage-inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2) and the number of P. acnes in ears injected with two bacteria plus sucrose were considerably lower than those in ears injected with two bacteria plus PBS. Our results demonstrate a precision microbiome approach by using sucrose as a SFI for S. epidermidis, holding future potential as a novel modality to equilibrate dysbiotic acne.

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