Propionic acid produced by Cutibacterium acnes fermentation ameliorates ultraviolet B-induced melanin synthesis

Hsin Jou Kao, Yan Han Wang, Sunita Keshari, John Jackson Yang, Shinta Simbolon, Chun Chuan Chen, Chun Ming Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ultraviolet irradiation induces melanin accumulation, which can be reduced by the use of chemical whitening products. However, the associated safety concerns of such products have prompted the search for natural and harmless alternatives. This study aimed to identify a natural acidic formulation to reduce skin pigmentation. The metabolite propionic acid (CH3CH2COOH, PA) was the most abundant fatty acid in the filtrate from Pluronic F68 (PF68) fermentation of Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) and reduced the DOPA-positive melanocytes by significantly inhibiting cellular tyrosinase activity via binding to the free fatty acid receptor 2 (FFAR2). Moreover, 4 mM PA treatment did not alter melanocyte proliferation, indicating that it is an effective solution for hyperpigmentation, causing no cellular damage. The reduced DOPA-positive melanocytes and tyrosinase activity were also observed in mice ear skin tissue injected with a mixture of C. acnes and PF68, supporting that the inhibition of melanogenesis is likely to be mediated through fermentation metabolites from C. acnes fermentation using PF68 as a carbon source. Additionally, PA did not affect the growth of its parent bacteria C. acnes, hence is a potent fermentation metabolite that does not disrupt the balance of the skin microbiome.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11980
JournalScientific Reports
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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