Cutibacterium acnes central nervous system catheter infection induces long-term changes in the cerebrospinal fluid proteome

Matthew Beaver, Dragana Lagundzin, Ishwor Thapa, Junghyae Lee, Hesham Ali, Tammy Kielian, Gwenn L. Skar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Cutibacterium acnes is the third most common cause of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) shunt infection and is likely underdiagnosed due to the difficulty in culturing this pathogen. Shunt infections lead to grave neurologic morbidity for patients especially when there is a delay in diagnosis. Currently, the gold standard for identifying CSF shunt infections is microbiologic culture. However, C. acnes infection often results in falsely negative cultures; therefore, new diagnostic methods are needed. To investigate potential CSF biomarkers of C. acnes CSF shunt infection we adapted a rat model of CSF catheter infection to C. acnes. We found elevated levels of interleukin-1b (IL-1b), IL-6, chemokine ligand 2, and IL-10 in the CSF and brain tissues of animals implanted with C. acnes-infected catheters compared to sterile controls at day 1 postinfection. This coincided with modest increases in neutrophils in the CSF and, to a greater extent, in the brain tissues of animals with C. acnes infection, which closely mirrors the clinical findings in patients with C. acnes shunt infection. Mass spectrometry revealed that the CSF proteome is altered during C. acnes shunt infection and changes over the course of disease, typified at day 1 postinfection by an acute-phase and pathogen neutralization response evolving to a response consistent with wound resolution at day 28 compared to a sterile catheter placement. Collectively, these results demonstrate that it is possible to distinguish C. acnes infection from sterile postoperative inflammation and that CSF proteins could be useful in a diagnostic strategy for this pathogen that is difficult to diagnose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00531-20
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Biomarker
  • C. acnes
  • CSF
  • Cytokine
  • Inflammation
  • Proteome
  • Shunt infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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