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The role of Cutibacterium acnes in intervertebral disc inflammation


Schmid, Bettina; Hausmann, Oliver; Hitzl, Wolfgang; Achermann, Yvonne; Wuertz-Kozak, Karin (2020). The role of Cutibacterium acnes in intervertebral disc inflammation. Biomedicines, 8(7):186.

Abstract

Recently, the role of infection of the intervertebral disc (IVD) with Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) as a contributor to disc-related low back pain (LBP) has been discussed. The aim of this study was to investigate whether and how C. acnes contributes to the inflammatory processes during IVD disease. The prevalence of C. acnes infection in human IVD tissue was determined by aerobic and anaerobic culture. Thereafter, primary human IVD cells were infected with a reference and a clinical C. acnes strain and analyzed for pro-inflammatory markers (gene/protein level). In a subsequent experiment, the involvement of the Toll-like receptor (TLR) pathway was investigated by co-treatment with sparstolonin B, a TLR2/4 inhibitor. We detected C. acnes in 10% of IVD biopsies (with either herniation or degeneration). Stimulating IVD cells with both C. acnes strains strongly and significantly upregulated expression of Interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8, and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). IL-6, cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, and iNOS expression was reduced upon TLR2/4 inhibition in 3 out of 5 donors, whereby responders and non-responders could not be differentiated by their basal TLR2 or TLR4 expression levels. We demonstrate that exposure of IVD cells to C. acnes induces an inflammatory response that may contribute to the development of discogenic LBP by involving TLR2/4 activation, yet only in a subgroup of patients. Whether the same response will be observed in vivo and where lower inoculums are present remains to be proven in future studies.

Abstract

Recently, the role of infection of the intervertebral disc (IVD) with Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) as a contributor to disc-related low back pain (LBP) has been discussed. The aim of this study was to investigate whether and how C. acnes contributes to the inflammatory processes during IVD disease. The prevalence of C. acnes infection in human IVD tissue was determined by aerobic and anaerobic culture. Thereafter, primary human IVD cells were infected with a reference and a clinical C. acnes strain and analyzed for pro-inflammatory markers (gene/protein level). In a subsequent experiment, the involvement of the Toll-like receptor (TLR) pathway was investigated by co-treatment with sparstolonin B, a TLR2/4 inhibitor. We detected C. acnes in 10% of IVD biopsies (with either herniation or degeneration). Stimulating IVD cells with both C. acnes strains strongly and significantly upregulated expression of Interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-8, and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). IL-6, cyclooxygenase (COX)-2, and iNOS expression was reduced upon TLR2/4 inhibition in 3 out of 5 donors, whereby responders and non-responders could not be differentiated by their basal TLR2 or TLR4 expression levels. We demonstrate that exposure of IVD cells to C. acnes induces an inflammatory response that may contribute to the development of discogenic LBP by involving TLR2/4 activation, yet only in a subgroup of patients. Whether the same response will be observed in vivo and where lower inoculums are present remains to be proven in future studies.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Dermatology Clinic
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Infectious Diseases
05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Center for Applied Biotechnology and Molecular Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Medicine (miscellaneous)
Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Language:English
Date:30 June 2020
Deposited On:26 Oct 2020 18:05
Last Modified:01 Nov 2020 17:15
Publisher:MDPI Publishing
ISSN:2227-9059
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines8070186
PubMed ID:32629986

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