‘Acne-causing bacteria secretes a protein called RoxP, which protects the against oxidative stress.’
A protein secreted by the most common bacteria on human skin protects against reactive oxidative stress, which is a contributing factor to several skin diseases. The acne-causing bacterium is called Propionibacterium acnes.
Lead researcher Rolf Lood from Lund University in Sweden, said,"The name originates from the fact that the bacterium was first discovered on a patient with severe acne. But whether it causes acne is uncertain - it may have been present merely because it is so common."
Rolf Lood discovered that the "acne bacterium" secretes a protein called RoxP. This protein protects against what is known as oxidative stress, a condition in which reactive oxygen species damage cells. UV radiation from the sun is the common cause of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is a contributing factor in a variety of skin diseases, including atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and skin cancer. Propionibacterium acnes is present in both healthy individuals and people with skin diseases. However, people have different amounts of the bacterium on their skin and the production of protective protein RoxP varies.
"This protein is important for the bacterium's very survival on our skin. The bacterium improves its living environment by secreting RoxP, but in doing so it also benefits us," explains Rolf Lood.
The researchers will further investigate the effect of protein in both patients and laboratory animals. The human study will involve patients with basal cell carcinoma. The researchers hope to investigate whether there is a connection between the degree of illness and the amount of RoxP on the patient's skin. In laboratory animals, the study will examine whether RoxP also functions as protection.
"If the study results are positive, they could lead to the inclusion of RoxP in sunscreens and its use in the treatment of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis," hopes Rolf Lood.
The findings of the study have been published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.