People susceptible to atopic dermatitis have different microbes living on their skin than non-sufferers

July 27, 2016, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore
People susceptible to atopic dermatitis have different microbes living on their skin than non-sufferers
A*STAR researchers have found that the skin disease atopic dermatitis upsets the balance of these residential bacteria even in people who are between flares. Credit: A*STAR Institute of Medical Biology

Microbial communities living on the skin of people susceptible to the skin disease atopic dermatitis differ from those of healthy individuals. This finding by A*STAR researchers provides insight into the roles that resident bacteria play in the disease and is promising for the early detection of susceptibility and potential interventional therapies.

Our skin hosts many and other microorganisms that are known collectively as the skin microbiome. Atopic dermatitis gives rise to dry, itchy, inflammatory skin and is estimated to affect up to one in five people in developed countries. Periodically the dermatitis clears, only to flare up in recurrent episodes. The relapsing nature of the disease led John Common of the A*STAR Institute of Medical Biology and co-workers to wonder whether the makeup of the skin microbes of an sufferer differs from that of a healthy individual even between flares, as such differences might explain what trigger flares.

As a test, the team developed an analysis technique to profile the metagenomes (the communities of bacteria, viruses and fungi) of 40 skin microbiome samples from people with recurrent atopic dermatitis. When they compared the results with those from another 40 individuals who had never had atopic dermatitis, they found significant variations between the two groups.

"We identified a clearly different skin microbiome signature for patients in remission from atopic dermatitis," explains Common. "This suggests that even when atopic skin looks relatively healthy and normal, there is an underlying shift in the skin microbiome. This altered microbiome may contribute to the cyclical nature of the disease flares."

The results also point to potential ways to treat atopic dermatitis. "Our study suggests that probiotic or microbe transplants could help restore the microbial balance providing long-term treatment alternatives," notes Niranjan Nagarajan from the A*STAR Genome Institute of Singapore.

The findings suggest a possible explanation for the increase in the global prevalence of atopic dermatitis—modern soaps that eradicate certain bacteria that oxidize ammonia. These bacteria were absent in the microbiomes of atopic dermatitis sufferers in the study. Thus, these ammonia-oxidizing bacteria may be important in staving off the disease.

The results have implications for other skin conditions. "This link between microbiome profile and skin health could apply to other diseases and subclinical conditions," notes Common.

The team is examining the development of microbiomes of infants that are at high risk of atopic and is exploring the relevance of various strains of microbes identified in the study.

Explore further: AD most commonly used term in literature for atopic dermatitis

More information: Kern Rei Chng et al. Whole metagenome profiling reveals skin microbiome-dependent susceptibility to atopic dermatitis flare, Nature Microbiology (2016). DOI: 10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.106

Related Stories

AD most commonly used term in literature for atopic dermatitis

July 15, 2016
(HealthDay)—Atopic dermatitis (AD) is most commonly referred to as AD in the literature, according to a review published online July 8 in Allergy.

Neurodermatitis genes influence other allergies

November 6, 2015
There's a typical "career" for some allergic people, and it starts very early on the skin: babies develop atopic dermatitis, food allergies may follow, then comes asthma and later on hay fever. A group of scientists led by ...

Stem cells from umbilical cord blood may help treat eczema

June 7, 2016
A new study suggests that treatment with stem cells from umbilical cord blood might be an effective therapy for patients with moderate-to-severe eczema, or atopic dermatitis.

Human breast milk effective for atopic dermatitis in infants

July 25, 2015
(HealthDay)—Topical application of human breast milk (HBM) is effective for infants with mild to moderate atopic dermatitis, according to a study published in the August issue of the International Journal of Dermatology.

Recommended for you

Drugs that stop mosquitoes catching malaria could help eradicate the disease

September 18, 2018
Researchers have identified compounds that could prevent malaria parasites from being able to infect mosquitoes, halting the spread of disease.

Vaccine opt-outs dropped slightly when California added more hurdles

September 18, 2018
In response to spiking rates of parents opting their children out of vaccinations that are required to enroll in school—and just before a huge outbreak of measles at Disneyland in 2014—California passed AB-2109. The law ...

New evidence of a preventative therapy for gout

September 17, 2018
Among patients with cardiovascular disease, it's a common complaint: a sudden, piercing pain, stiffness or tenderness in a joint that lasts for days at a time with all signs pointing to a gout attack. Gout and cardiovascular ...

"Atypical" virus discovered to be driver of certain kidney diseases

September 14, 2018
An international research team led by Wolfgang Weninger has discovered a previously unknown virus that acts as a "driver" for certain kidney diseases (interstitial nephropathy). This "atypical" virus, which the scientists ...

Flu shot rates in clinics drop as day progresses, but nudges help give them a boost

September 14, 2018
Primary care clinics experienced a significant decline in influenza vaccinations as the day progressed, researchers from Penn Medicine report in a new study published in JAMA Open Network. However, "nudging" clinical staff ...

Cancer drug and antidepressants provide clues for treating brain-eating amoeba infections

September 13, 2018
The amoeba Naegleria fowleri is commonly found in warm swimming pools, lakes and rivers. On rare occasions, the amoeba can infect a healthy person and cause severe primary amebic meningoencephalitis, a "brain-eating" disease ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Jul 28, 2016
Can anybody recommend a good soap or lotion to help eradicate the microbes that cause dermatitis?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.