Bone and Joint Institute

Cutibacterium acnes and the shoulder microbiome

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Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery

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© 2018 Background: Advances in DNA sequencing technologies have made it possible to detect microbial genome sequences (microbiomes) within tissues once thought to be sterile. We used this approach to gain insights into the likely sources of Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes) infections within the shoulder. Methods: Tissue samples were collected from the skin, subcutaneous fat, anterior supraspinatus tendon, middle glenohumeral ligament, and humeral head cartilage of 23 patients (14 male and 9 female patients) during primary arthroplasty surgery. Total DNA was extracted and microbial 16S ribosomal RNA sequencing was performed using an Illumina MiSeq system. Data analysis software was used to generate operational taxonomic units for quantitative and statistical analyses. Results: After stringent removal of contamination, genomic DNA from various Acinetobacter species and from the Oxalobacteraceae family was identified in 74% of rotator cuff tendon tissue samples. C acnes DNA was detected in the skin of 1 male patient but not in any other shoulder tissues. Conclusion: Our findings indicate the presence of a low-abundance microbiome in the rotator cuff and, potentially, in other shoulder tissues. The absence of C acnes DNA in all shoulder tissues assessed other than the skin is consistent with the hypothesis that C acnes infections are derived from skin contamination during surgery and not from opportunistic expansion of a resident C acnes population in the shoulder joint.

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