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Skin Microbes Alter Immunity

Like commensal gut organisms, skin microbiota appear to help the mammalian immune system mature and stay regulated.

Edyta Zielinska

Microbes residing in the hair follicles and over the surface of the skin may contribute to the immune system’s normal ability to function, according to new research published last week in Science (July 26). The finding could help scientists understand skin diseases like psoriasis and improve the design of tissue-specific vaccines, according to the authors.

Commensal microbes living in the GI tract have long been known to help prime the immune system for pathogenic attack. Now, it appears that organisms living on the skin do the same. “No one had any idea of the relative magnitude of the immunological effect in skin, or how similar any mechanisms found outside the gut would be to those occurring inside the gut,” Curtis Huttenhower, a computational biologist at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston who was not involved in the study, told Nature.

Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy...

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