Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes) is one of the major bacterial species responsible for acne vulgaris. Numerous bioactive compounds from Momordica charantia Linn. var. abbreviata Ser. have been isolated and examined for many years. In this study, we evaluated the suppressive effect of two cucurbitane-type triterpenoids, 5β,19-epoxycucurbita-6,23-dien-3β,19,25-triol (Kuguacin R; KR) and 3β,7β,25-trihydroxycucurbita-5,23-dien-19-al (TCD) on live C. acnes-stimulated in vitro and in vivo inflammatory responses. Using human THP-1 monocytes, KR or TCD suppressed C. acnes-induced production of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6 and IL-8 at least above 56% or 45%, as well as gene expression of these three pro-inflammatory cytokines. However, a significantly strong inhibitory effect on production and expression of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α was not observed. Both cucurbitanes inhibited C. acnes-induced activation of the myeloid differentiation primary response 88 (MyD88) (up to 62%) and mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) (at least 36%). Furthermore, TCD suppressed the expression of pro-caspase-1 and cleaved caspase-1 (p10). In a separate study, KR or TCD decreased C. acnes-stimulated mouse ear edema by ear thickness (20% or 14%), and reduced IL-1β-expressing leukocytes and neutrophils in mouse ears. We demonstrated that KR and TCD are potential anti-inflammatory agents for modulating C. acnes-induced inflammation in vitro and in vivo.
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