(HealthDay News) – Bacteriophages that infect the dominant bacteria inhabitant of the human sebaceous follicle, Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes), which contributes to the pathogenesis of acne, have limited genetic diversity and display a broad host range, according to a study published online Sept 25 in mBio.

Laura J. Marinelli, PhD, from the David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles, and colleagues explored the genetic diversity in 11 P. acnes phages isolated from the sebaceous follicles of donors with either healthy skin or with acne.

The researchers found that, over a 30-year temporal period and a broad geographic range, there was considerable similarity in terms of genome length, percent guanine-cytosine content, percent nucleotide identity, and gene content in the P. acnes phage population. The phages displayed a broad host range of clinical strains of P. acnes but two bacterial isolates were resistant to many phages. The patterns of resistance were closely linked to the presence of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat elements in the bacteria. These elements targeted a specific subset of phages.

“These studies point the way to further investigation of the P. acnes bacteriophage populations in health and disease but also indicate the possibility of using these phages as a targeted approach to acne treatment,” the authors write.

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