Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) causes an inflammatory acne that is characterized by massive neutrophilic infiltration. IL-8 is thought to play an important role in the pathophysiology of P. acnes, although the mechanisms by which P. acnes up-regulates the release of IL-8, a neutrophilic chemokine, from target cells is not well understood. In this study, we investigated the mechanisms through which heat-killed P. acnes induces IL-8 production in THP-1 cells (a human monocytic cell line). We found that P. acnes is able to directly induce IL-8 production and IL-8 mRNA expression in human monocytic cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner through a mechanism requiring transcription factor NF-κB activation. Additionally, P. acnes-induced IL-8 secretion was inhibited by roxithromycin, a macrolide antibiotic, and its inhibitory effect seemed to be partially associated with the inhibition of P. acnes-induced NF-κB activation. This is the first study to show that NF-κB activation is involved in the IL-8 production of monocytic cells stimulated by P. acnes.
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