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Cutibacterium acnes Gram Positive Bacteria Causing Infection


Cutibacterium acnes


Cutibacterium acnes: a complex Gram positive bacteria

Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) is a Gram positive bacteria that prefers anaerobic (without air) growth conditions1. Cutibacterium acnes can be found on the skin of virtually every human, and it is one of the bacteria that can cause acne. Acne is one of the most common skin diseases, affecting more than 45 million individuals in the United States. It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of all visits to dermatologists are related to the treatment of acne. Cutibacterium acnes is generally considered non-pathogenic, meaning it doesn’t cause disease. However, there is a growing body of evidence that point out its involvement in several types of postoperative infections and other chronic conditions such as endocarditis2 and eye infections3, as well as can affect the spine4. In addition, C. acnes has the ability to persist on body implants and surgical devices, causing a wide-range of post-operative infectious conditions5.

This article gives an overview of:
● The Cutibacterium acnes

● How Cutibacterium acnes is transmitted

● How Cutibacterium acnes can be detected, prevented and controlled

● The risks of Cutibacterium acnes for consumers

● Treating Cutibacterium acnes

● Industries affected by Cutibacterium acnes

● bioMérieux’s products and solutions for detecting and preventing Cutibacterium acnes



How is the Cutibacterium acnes transmitted?

Cutibacterium acnes exists on the skin of nearly every person. This means that it is easily transmitted through skin contact.


How Cutibacterium acnes can be detected prevented and controlled?

C. acnes can act as an opportunistic pathogen causing invasive and chronic implant infections. For its successful microbiological diagnosis, multiple conventional tissue cultures, sonication (sound energy) of the removed implant or its mobile parts, and/or synovial fluid aspiration (removing fluids) is recommended6.

Cutibacterium acnes is susceptible to a wide range of chemicals, making it relevant when testing antimicrobial efficacy (chemical preservation) of substances. For example, Benzoyl peroxide kills Cutibacterium acnes. This medication helps remove excess oils from the skin, as well as dead skin cells that clog pores, which is often a treatment for acne.

Detecting Cutibacterium acnes is also a challenge and requires validated testing methods that take into consideration its unique characteristics. The FDA advised drug manufacturers to establish suitable methods to prevent contamination, such as:

● Maintaining the adequate quality of incoming materials, sanitary design, cleaning of equipment, production and storage time limitations, and monitoring of environmental conditions.
● Use scientifically sound and appropriate acceptance criteria and testing procedures to assure that drug or implant product components (including pharmaceutical water) and finished drug or implant products conform to appropriate quality standards.
● Provide appropriate product specifications (tests, methods, and acceptance criteria) in applications submitted to regulatory officials for new drug applications.
● When appropriate, additional laboratory tests may be needed to determine whether products are suitable for release.
● Investigate any failure to meet specifications, including other batches of the same drug product and other drug products that may have been associated with the specific failure or discrepancy and implement appropriate corrective and follow-up actions to prevent recurrence7.


How can the presence of Cutibacterium acnes be detected in the pharmaceutical products?

The optimal temperature for growth of Cutibacterium acnes is 37°C. To increase its detection, prolonged aerobic and anaerobic cultures for 14 days and use enrichment broth that supports the growth of microorganisms8. Samples can be also analyzed using the blood culture device BacT/ALERT 3D9 from bioMerieux.

What are the risks of Cutibacterium acnes to the consumer?

The worldwide prevalence of antibiotic-resistant C. acnes is increasing, with rates varying in different parts of the world. The reason for the difference in the antibiotic resistance patterns of C. acnes among different countries is not clear, although it may be attributed to different antibiotic prescribing habits, varying use of topical agents (retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, or other antibiotics), differing methods of bacterial sampling, or even different C. acnes populations.

Currently, C. acnes is also considered an opportunistic pathogen in infections linked to surgical procedures, foreign bodies, septicemia, and in implant-associated infections.

What is the treatment for Cutibacterium acnes contamination?
The optimal treatment of C. acnes infections consists of systemic antibiotics and removal of foreign bodies, as well as consequence corrections10. Antibiotics used to treat anaerobic infections usually suffice for other types C. acnes related infections as well. These include11:

● Penicillin

● Carbapenems

● Clindamycin

● Vancomycin

● Teicoplanin



● Cutibacterium acnes are part of the normal skin.

● It is estimated that nearly 20 percent of all visits to dermatologists are related to the treatment of acne.

● C. acnes can tolerate exposure to oxygen for several hours and is capable in vitro to survive under anaerobic conditions for up to 8 months12.

● C. acnes is the slowest growing of usual test organisms.

● C. acnes can be killed with ultraviolet light.

● C. acnes is an immune stimulant.


What common industries are affected by Cutibacterium acnes

Cutibacterium acnes can be relevant for:
● Drug manufacturers of non-sterile & water-based drug products

● Medical device systems

● Cell therapy manufacturers

● Blood banks


Culture can be used for cells and microorganisms sample growth in laboratories. Reliable culture media solutions are an important part of microbiology testing, safeguarding pharmaceutical products from contamination whilst helping to protect patients and contributing to public health in general.

BIOBALL® Standardized Strains
BIOBALL was developed as a water soluble solution for growth promotion testing, sterility assurance testing and antimicrobial effectiveness testing. They come with a variety of adaptable solutions that enhance pathogen detection speed and accuracy.

Our pathogen identification range includes solutions such as API®, VITEK® MS, VITEK® 2 COMPACT, and VITEK® EXPRESS which are rapid identification methods. Thank to state of the art technology, precise results can be achieved in minutes.

SCANRDI® and BACTALERT® are pathogen detection solutions for the pharmaceutical industry. They greatly increase the operational efficiency, both for faster release and in-process control purposes, from raw material to finished product. Above all, this contributes increasing patient safety by getting an early access to the therapy




Scientific Director Healthcare Business
Healthcare Business Industry Unit
bioMérieux SA, France


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