Staphylococcal enterotoxin-B-mediated stimulation of interleukin-13 production as a potential aetiologic factor in eczema in infants

Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2004 Dec;135(4):306-12. doi: 10.1159/000082324. Epub 2004 Nov 24.


Background: Staphylococcus aureus colonization has been found in 80-100% of lesional skin from patients with atopic eczema dermatitis syndrome (AEDS) and is thought to have a role in the pathogenesis of the disease. Furthermore, up to 65% of S. aureus from lesional skin has been shown to produce toxigenic superantigens.

Methods: Using a cohort of 11 children under 2 years of age diagnosed with AEDS, we isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells, cultured them with staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB) and phytohaemagglutinin, and assessed the cytokine response profiles. Plasma was also collected for immunoglobulin E analysis. In addition, skin and nasal swabs were taken and cultured to determine the presence of SEB-producing S. aureus by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and reverse passive latex agglutination.

Results: We found a significant increase in the production of the SEB-induced cytokines interleukin (IL)-5 and IL-13 in the patient group when compared with non-atopic, healthy controls. For IL-13, there was almost no overlap in the levels between the groups. However, there was no correlation between SEB-induced IL-13 and disease severity. This difference was not seen when heat-inactivated S. aureus was used to stimulate the cells.

Conclusions: IL-13 is an important factor in AEDS development in early childhood, and prophylactic anti-staphylococcal treatment may provide protection from AEDS in atopic individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Bacterial / genetics
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / microbiology*
  • Enterotoxins / genetics
  • Enterotoxins / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Infant
  • Interleukin-13 / blood
  • Interleukin-13 / immunology
  • Interleukin-5 / blood
  • Interleukin-5 / immunology
  • Latex Fixation Tests
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Male
  • Phytohemagglutinins / immunology
  • Staphylococcal Skin Infections / immunology*
  • Staphylococcal Skin Infections / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Enterotoxins
  • Interleukin-13
  • Interleukin-5
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • enterotoxin B, staphylococcal