skin bacteria


Harmless bacteria on the skin linked to heightened immune response

Source: National Institutes of Health

The non-threatening bacteria, or microbiota, found on the skin, may actually help the immune system kill disease-causing microbes, according to recent research.

A new study looking at the relationship between these microbiota and immune cell function found that germ-free mice raised without microbes in their stomach or on their skin had weaker skin immune function than normal mice. When the germ-free mice were exposed to Staphylococcus epidermidis, the mice experienced an immune response related to combating harmful microbes.

Relatedly, when exposed to a skin parasite, the germ-free mice did not mount an immune response to the parasite, but the regular mice did. Separate experiments suggest that the absence of microbes in the gut had no effect on the immune reaction of the skin, suggesting that the microbes may function differently at different sites on the body.