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Is there a causal relationship between dysbiosis and atopic dermatitis?

Is there a causal relationship between dysbiosis and atopic dermatitis? A study in the British Journal of Dermatology looked at the skin microbiome in atopic dermatitis and addressed whether there is a causal relationship between dysbiosis – a microbial imbalance inside the body – and atopic dermatitis.

Dysbiosis is a hallmark of atopic dermatitis, but the composition of skin microbiome communities and the causality of dysbiosis in atopic dermatitis have not been well established.

Researchers looked at studies applying culture-independent analysis on the microbiome on atopic dermatitis skin of humans and animals. Of 5,735 texts, 32 met the inclusion criteria.

The study found that skin affected by atopic dermatitis had low bacterial diversity, which declined the most in dermatitis-involved sites. Three studies showed depletion of Malassezia spp. and high non-Malassezia fungal diversity. The relative abundance of Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis were elevated and other genera were reduced, including Propionibacterium.

A mouse study indicated that dysbiosis is a driving factor in dermatitis pathogenesis. Dysbiosis in atopic dermatitis not only implicates Staphylococcus spp., but also microbes such as Propionibacterium and  Malassezia.

The study therefore concluded that there may be a causal relationship between dysbiosis and atopic dermatitis, and researchers noted that a causal role of dysbiosis in dermatitis in mice should encourage future studies to investigate if this also applies to humans.

Read more recent research on atopic dermatitis.


R.D. Bjerre, J. Bandier, L. Skov, L. Engstrand & J.D. Johansen. (12 November 2017.) The role of the skin microbiome in atopic dermatitis: a systematic review. British Journal of Dermatology. Volume 177. Issue 5. Pages 1272-1278. DOI: 10.1111/bjd.15390.

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