Interactions between genome and skin bacteria influence inflammatory
30 September 2013
A German research group has found that low numbers of some
species of skin bacteria are associated with certain inflammatory
disorders and that the bacteria are in turn affected by the genetic
makeup of the host.
Numerous recent studies have linked gut microflora with various
diseases such as obesity or diabetes. Little is known, however, on
how gut and skin microflora composition is controlled.
The study by researchers in the Inflammation Research Excellence
Cluster — a group of collaborating institutions in Germany was
published in the journal Nature Communications. Their
landmark findings will open the door to identifying gene variants
that control skin microbiota and to define their link to various
diseases such as skin inflammatory disorders.
Outnumbered by bacteria
The human body contains more bacteria than human cells. Most of
these bacteria comprise the normal gut and skin microbiota.
Susceptibility to chronic inflammatory diseases is determined by
immunogenetic and environmental risk factors that include these
resident microbial communities. Whether these differences are
causative or secondary to the altered inflammatory environment
remains largely unknown.
The Inflammation Cluster Research Groups led by Saleh Ibrahim of
the University of Lübeck, and John Baines of the Max Planck
Institute for Evolutionary Biology and Kiel University, correlated
the genomic variations of hundreds of mice that partially develop
skin inflammatory diseases with skin microbiota.
They showed interactions between the host genes and the
microbiota contributed to disease risk for autoantibody-induced
inflammatory skin disease. Furthermore they identified genetic loci
contributing to skin microbiota variability, susceptibility to skin
inflammation and their overlap.
For the majority of the identified microbiotal communities,
reduced abundance is associated with increased disease risk,
providing evidence of a primary role in protection from disease.
These findings offer a promising potential for using those probiotic
species of bacteria for preventative and therapeutic treatment
Prof Dr John Baines said, “It appears that the skin flora
is a phenotype that is partially controlled by the host genome
variations. This in turn predisposes to the development of disease.
The more we learn about these interactions, the more possibilities
there will be for a better and more individualized treatment and
prevention of skin inflammatory diseases."
Genome-wide mapping of gene-microbiota interactions in
susceptibility to autoimmune skin blistering. Nature Communications.
The Inflammation Research Excellence Cluster follows a unique,
interdisciplinary research approach in order to decode the causes of
chonic inflammation and to develop therapies for healing. The
research association brings together approximately 200 geneticists,
biologists, nutritionists and physicians from Kiel University and
the University of Lübeck, the Research Institute Borstel and the Max
Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön, all in Germany
In Germany alone, millions of people suffer from chronic
inflammation of the lungs (asthma), the skin (psoriasis), and the
intestines (Crohn’s disease). The trigger is a disorder of the
immune system: it incessantly activates inflammatory mediators and
defence cells, thereby destroying healthy tissue. The number of
sufferers increases daily.
This phenomenon of modern civilization has become the challenge
for 21st Century medicine. Accordingly, in 2007 the German Federal
Government and the German Research Foundation declared the decoding
of the complex inflammation mechanism to be a national scientific