Propionibacterium acnes: disease-causing agent or common contaminant? Detection in diverse patient samples by next-generation sequencing

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Propionibacterium acnesis the most abundant bacterium on human skin, particularly in sebaceous areas.P. acnesis suggested to be an opportunistic pathogen involved in the development of diverse medical conditions but is also a proven contaminant of human clinical samples and surgical wounds. Its significance as a pathogen is consequently a matter of debate. In the present study, we investigated the presence ofP. acnesDNA in 250 next-generation sequencing data sets generated from 180 samples of 20 different sample types, mostly of cancerous origin. The samples were subjected to either microbial enrichment, involving nuclease treatment to reduce the amount of host nucleic acids, or shotgun sequencing. We detected high proportions ofP. acnesDNA in enriched samples, particularly skin tissue-derived and other tissue samples, with the levels being higher in enriched samples than in shotgun-sequenced samples.P. acnesreads were detected in most samples analyzed, though the proportions in most shotgun-sequenced samples were low. Our results show thatP. acnescan be detected in practically all sample types when molecular methods, such as next-generation sequencing, are employed. The possibility of contamination from the patient or other sources, including laboratory reagents or environment, should therefore always be considered carefully whenP. acnesis detected in clinical samples. We advocate that detection ofP. acnesalways be accompanied by experiments validating the association between this bacterium and any clinical condition.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)980-987
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2016

    Research areas

  • Bacterial Infections, High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing, Humans, Neoplasms, Propionibacterium acnes, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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