Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes) is the most cultured organism implicated in periprosthetic shoulder infections. Nevertheless, the clinical significance of its persistence on the skin surface and in the deep layers during shoulder arthroplasty surgery remains still unknown. The purpose of this study was to know if the C. acnes isolate present in deep tissues at the end of a primary shoulder arthroplasty could be responsible for shoulder arthroplasty infection.
Prospective study including 156 patients undergoing primary shoulder arthroplasty. In all the patients included 5 to 12 tissue samples were obtained and were specifically cultured to detect C. acnes presence. DNA was extracted from the C. acnes colonies selected with the QIAsymphony DSP Virus/Pathogen Midi Kit (Qiagen, Hilden, Germany). Libraries were prepared using Nextera XT kit (Illumina) and sequenced in an Illumina MiSeq sequencer. Sequencing files were pre-processed using The Microbial Genome Atlas pipeline. Samples that failed on QC analysis were discarded for further analysis. Isolate nucleotide distances were calculated using Genome-based distance matrix calculator from the enveomics collection. Comparative genomic analysis was performed between intra- and inter-patients’ isolates. Data analysis was performed using R 3.6.3.
For twenty-seven out of 156 patients (17.31%), C. acnes was present at the end of the primary surgery. Two of these patients (both male) developed a C. acnes periprosthetic shoulder infection after 6 and 4 months from the primary surgery. DNA from the C. acnes responsible for the periprosthetic infection was further analysed by whole genome sequencing (WGS). Average Nucleotide Identity (ANI) value was assessed, measuring the nucleotide-level genomic similarity between genome pairs. We found a clear ANI clustering in two major groups which corresponded, mainly, to the associated phylotype (97%–98% ANI). Moreover, when analysing both isolates that developed a periprosthetic shoulder infection, we found that all the revision-surgery isolates clustered nearer to their corresponding primary-surgery isolates (99.4% of similarity) than to the other independent bacterial isolates, supporting the causal relationship between the initial and the delayed infection.
C. acnes present at the end of the primary surgery can be the cause of early- or delayed-periprosthetic joint infections in shoulder arthroplasty, revealing the potential route of infection. Therefore, efforts must be made in terms of antibiotic prophylaxis and skin preparation to limit infections of total shoulder arthroplasties.