It is not only the microbiota of the stomach that is good for us. Our skin bacteria also contribute to our well-being. A research grop from the University of Lund in Sweden has shown that one of the most common skin bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes, excrete a protein with antioxidative properties as efficient as Vitamin E . The enzyme in question, named RoxP, is necessary for the survival of the bacteria on the skin. However it also protects our cells against the free radicals around us. Free radicals are formed for example when the suns UV-light reacts with molecules in the air or on the skin. Formation of a free radical might easily result in a chain reaction that damage the cell structures and DNA. This phenomenon is called oxidative stress and is a large contributor to skin aging and a cause for many skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and skin cancer.
The name of the bacteria stems from the fact that it was first isolated on the skin of a patient suffering from severe acne. Today it is highly debated whether P. Acnes really cause acne or not. What is clear though is that it is more common on oily skin since it thrives in sebaceous glands, living off the fatty acids in the sebum. It will be interesting to see if it is the presence of RoxP that is responsible for the delayed aging in acne prone skin by protecting the chromosomal telomeres in the skin cells from oxidative stress.