Scientists find microbes on the skin of mice promote tissue healing, immunity

January 18, 2018, NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Beneficial bacteria on the skin of lab mice work with the animals' immune systems to defend against disease-causing microbes and accelerate wound healing, according to new research from scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. Researchers say untangling similar mechanisms in humans may improve approaches to managing skin wounds and treating other damaged tissues. The study was published online today in Cell.

Like humans and other mammals, mice are inhabited by large, diverse microbial populations collectively called the microbiome. While the microbiome is believed to have many beneficial functions across several organ systems, little is known about how the responds to these harmless bacteria.

To investigate, NIAID scientists led by Yasmine Belkaid, Ph.D., chief of the Mucosal Immunology Section of NIAID's Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, observed the reaction of mouse to Staphylococcus epidermidis, a bacterium regularly found on human skin that does not normally cause disease. To their surprise, immune cells recognized S. epidermidis using evolutionarily ancient molecules called non-classical MHC molecules, which led to the production of unusual T cells with genes associated with tissue healing and antimicrobial defense. In contrast, immune cells recognize disease-causing bacteria with classical MHC molecules, which lead to the production of T cells that stoke inflammation.

Researchers then took skin biopsies from two groups of mice—one group that had been colonized by S. epidermidis and another that had not. Over five days, the group that had been exposed to the experienced more at the wound site and less evidence of inflammation. Dr. Belkaid's team plans to next probe whether non-classical MHC molecules recognize friendly microbes on the skin of other mammals, including humans, and similarly benefit tissue repair. Eventually, mimicking the processes initiated by the microbiome may allow clinicians to accelerate wound healing and prevent dangerous infections, the researchers note.

Explore further: Skin microbes trigger specific immune responses

More information: J Linehan et al. Non-classical immunity controls microbiota impact on skin immunity and tissue repair. Cell DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.12.033 (2018).

Related Stories

Skin microbes trigger specific immune responses

January 5, 2015
New research in mice shows that the immune system in the skin develops distinct responses to the various microbes that naturally colonize the skin, referred to as commensals. A team led by scientists at the National Institute ...

NIH team describes protective role of skin microbiota

July 26, 2012
A research team at the National Institutes of Health has found that bacteria that normally live in the skin may help protect the body from infection. As the largest organ of the body, the skin represents a major site of interaction ...

Immune cells produce wound healing factor, could lead to new IBD treatment

September 20, 2017
Specific immune cells have the ability to produce a healing factor that can promote wound repair in the intestine, a finding that could lead to new, potential therapeutic treatments for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according ...

Inflammation trains the skin to heal faster

October 18, 2017
Scars may fade, but the skin remembers. New research from The Rockefeller University reveals that wounds or other harmful, inflammation-provoking experiences impart long-lasting memories to stem cells residing in the skin, ...

Researchers find factor that delays wound healing

October 17, 2017
New research carried out at The University of Manchester has identified a bacterium—normally present on the skin that causes poor wound healing in certain conditions.

Mature B lymphocytes accelerate the healing of diabetic ulcers, other skin injuries

October 25, 2017
A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team has found a surprising potential solution to a persistent clinical problem - the healing of chronic wounds. In their report published in Wound Repair and Regeneration, ...

Recommended for you

3-D printed biomaterials for bone tissue engineering

August 13, 2018
When skeletal defects are unable to heal on their own, bone tissue engineering (BTE), a developing field in orthopedics can combine materials science, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine to facilitate bone repair. ...

Artificial intelligence platform screens for acute neurological illnesses

August 13, 2018
An artificial intelligence platform designed to identify a broad range of acute neurological illnesses, such as stroke, hemorrhage, and hydrocephalus, was shown to identify disease in CT scans in 1.2 seconds, faster than ...

Researchers create specialized delivery methods to help treat cancer, other disorders

August 13, 2018
More than 100 years ago, German Nobel laureate Paul Ehrlich popularized the "magic bullet" concept—a method that clinicians might one day use to target invading microbes without harming other parts of the body. Although ...

Scientists identify why some kidney transplants don't work

August 13, 2018
Scientists have discovered a 'molecular signature' for the allostatic load – or 'wear and tear' of kidneys – which could help clinicians understand why some kidney transplants don't work as well as expected.

Tiny fruit flies unravelling the secrets to end of life

August 10, 2018
We are used to seeing them dive-bombing our glass of wine or hovering around the fruit bowl.

Scientists find that common dietary elements cure lethal infections, eliminating the need for antibiotics

August 9, 2018
Antibiotic use is driving an epidemic of antibiotic resistance, as more susceptible bacteria are killed but more resilient strains live on and multiply with abandon. But if antibiotics aren't the end-all solution for infectious ...

0 comments

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.