Propionibacterium acnes is a key pathogen involved in the progression of acne inflammation. The development of a new agent possessing antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activity against P. acnes is therefore of interest. In this study, we investigated the inhibitory effect of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) extract on P. acnes-induced inflammation in vitro and in vivo. The results showed that ethanolic rosemary extract (ERE) significantly suppressed the secretion and mRNA expression of proinflammatory cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-8, IL-1β, and tumor necrosis factor-α in P. acnes-stimulated monocytic THP-1 cells. In an in vivo mouse model, concomitant intradermal injection of ERE attenuated the P. acnes-induced ear swelling and granulomatous inflammation. Since ERE suppressed the P. acnes-induced nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB) activation and mRNA expression of Toll-like receptor (TLR) 2, the suppressive effect of ERE might be due, at least partially, to diminished NF-κB activation and TLR2-mediated signaling pathways. Furthermore, three major constituents of ERE, carnosol, carnosic acid, and rosmarinic acid, exerted different immumodulatory activities in vitro. In brief, rosmarinic acid significantly suppressed IL-8 production, while the other two compounds inhibited IL-1β production. Further study is needed to explore the role of bioactive compounds of rosemary in mitigation of P. acnes-induced inflammation.
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