Acne is a common skin condition with sebum overproduction, hyperkeratosis, Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) and Staphylococcus aureus, and inflammation. Punica granatum (pomegranate) is well-known for its anti-inflammatory effects; however, few studies have discussed the anti-acne effects of pomegranate. In this study, we found that pomegranate extract (PG-E) significantly reduced P. acnes-induced edema in Wistar rat ears. Therefore, an evaluation platform using multiple pathogenic mechanisms of acne was established to explore the anti-acne effects of pomegranate. Results showed that PG-E inhibited bacterial growth and lipase activity. Through a bioguided-fractionation-isolation system, four hydrolysable tannins, punicalagin (1), punicalin (2), strictinin A (3), and granatin B (4), were isolated. Compounds 1 and 2 had greater anti-bacterial activities and anti-testosterone-induced HaCaT proliferative effects than the others. Compounds 1, 3, and 4 displayed lipase inhibitory effects. Compound 4 decreased cyclooxygenase-2 expression and downregulated prostaglandin E2 production in heat-killed P. acnes-treated RAW 246.7 cells. In conclusion, PG-E is abundant in hydrolysable tannins that display multiple anti-acne capacities, including anti-bacterial, anti-lipase, anti-keratinocyte proliferation, and anti-inflammatory actions. Hence, PG-E has great potential in the application of anti-acne and skin-care products, and punicalagin (1), the most effective component in PG-E, can be employed as a quality control marker.
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