Invasive Propionibacterium acnes infections in a non-selective patient cohort: clinical manifestations, management and outcome


Purpose An increasing number of reports suggest that Propionibacterium acnes can cause serious invasive infections. Currently only limited data exist regarding the spectrum of invasive P. acnes infections.

Methods Non-selective cohort study at a tertiary hospital in the UK over a nine-year-period (2003-2012) investigating clinical manifestations, risk factors, management and outcome of invasive P. acnes infections.

Results Forty-nine cases were identified; the majority were neurosurgical infections and orthopaedic infections (n=28 and n=15, respectively). Only two cases had no predisposing factors; all neurosurgical and 93.3% of orthopaedic cases had a history of previous surgery and/or trauma. Foreign material was in situ at the infection site in 59.3% and 80.0% of neurosurgical and orthopaedic cases, respectively. All neurosurgical and orthopaedic cases required one or more surgical interventions to treat P. acnes infection, with or without concomitant antibiotic therapy; the duration of antibiotic therapy was significantly longer in the group of orthopaedic cases (median 53 versus 19 days; p=0.0025). All tested P. acnes isolates were susceptible to penicillin, ampicillin and chloramphenicol; only one was clindamycin-resistant.

Conclusions Neurosurgical and orthopaedic infections account for the majority of invasive P. acnes infections. The majority of cases have predisposing factors, including previous surgery and/or trauma; spontaneous infections are rare. Foreign material is commonly present at the site of infection, indicating that the pathogenesis of invasive P. acnes infections likely involves biofilm formation. Since invasive P. acnes infections are associated with considerable morbidity, further studies are needed to establish effective prevention and optimal treatment strategies.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


Propionibacterium acnes, management


Tebruegge, M., Jones, C., de Graaf, H., Sukhtankar, P., Allan, R.N., Howlin, R.P., Browning, D., Schuster, H., Pallett, A., Patel, S., Faust, S.N. (2014) Invasive Propionibacterium acnes infections in a non-selective patient cohort: clinical manifestations, management and outcome. European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, 34(3), pp.527-534.


Research Institute

Leicester Institute for Pharmaceutical Innovation - From Molecules to Practice (LIPI)