Vitamin B12 may lead to Acne for some – link found

Written by on July 8, 2015 in Acne Treatments, Rosacea Supplements with 1 Comment
 An interesting finding for those considering Vitamin B12 supplements. A recent study has identified the link responsible in some individuals with taking B12 and developing acne.

The study identifies “one molecular explanation for the long-standing clinical observation that vitamin B12 supplementation leads to acne development in a subset of individuals”.

Although the link between skin flora in acne and any possible link between bacteria and rosacea have not been shown to be related to each other, this is an interesting result for rosacea sufferers to take note of.

Vitamin B12 modulates the transcriptome of the skin microbiota in acne pathogenesis
Dezhi Kang, Baochen Shi, Marie C. Erfe, Noah Craft and Huiying Li

Science Translational Medicine, 24 Jun 2015: Vol. 7, Issue 293, pp. 293ra103

Various diseases have been linked to the human microbiota, but the underlying molecular mechanisms of the microbiota in disease pathogenesis are often poorly understood.

Using acne as a disease model, we aimed to understand the molecular response of the skin microbiota to host metabolite signaling in disease pathogenesis.

Metatranscriptomic analysis revealed that the transcriptional profiles of the skin microbiota separated acne patients from healthy individuals. The vitamin B12 biosynthesis pathway in the skin bacterium Propionibacterium acnes was significantly down-regulated in acne patients.

We hypothesized that host vitamin B12 modulates the activities of the skin microbiota and contributes to acne pathogenesis. To test this hypothesis, we analyzed the skin microbiota in healthy subjects supplemented with vitamin B12.

We found that the supplementation repressed the expression of vitamin B12 biosynthesis genes in P. acnes and altered the transcriptome of the skin microbiota.

One of the 10 subjects studied developed acne 1 week after vitamin B12 supplementation. To further understand the molecular mechanism, we revealed that vitamin B12 supplementation in P. acnes cultures promoted the production of porphyrins, which have been shown to induce inflammation in acne.

Our findings suggest a new bacterial pathogenesis pathway in acne and provide one molecular explanation for the long-standing clinical observation that vitamin B12 supplementation leads to acne development in a subset of individuals. Our study discovered that vitamin B12, an essential nutrient in humans, modulates the transcriptional activities of skin bacteria, and provided evidence that metabolite-mediated interactions between the host and the skin microbiota play essential roles in disease development.

From the full article:

One of the 10 subjects developed acne 1 week after vitamin B12 supplementation

Consistent with multiple clinical studies previously reporting that vitamin B12 supplementation induces acne in subsets of individuals, here, 1 of the 10 healthy subjects, HL414, had multiple erythematous papules and comedones developed on the face 1 week after vitamin B12 supplementation.

It is not understood how vitamin B12 supplementation leads to acne in some individuals and whether the vitamin B12–associated acne has a separate pathogenesis mechanism.



Originally reported more than a half-century ago, it is observed that vitamin B12 leads to acne development in a subset of population.

However, the underlying mechanism of this clinical observation was not understood.

Here, by investigating the transcriptional activities and regulations of the skin microbiota, we revealed a molecular link between vitamin B12 and acne pathogenesis.

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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1 Reader Comment

  1. Ginger says:

    That is very interesting. I just had a series of B12 injections to treat an illness. Starting about a week ago I have been getting small erythematous papules on my face. I thought it was an escalation in my rosacea, so I cut out anything in my diet that could be a trigger.

    I didn’t even consider it could have been from the B12. Thankyou for posting this article! Your blog is very informative, as usual 🙂

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