The opportunistic yeast pathogen Trichosporon asahii colonizes the skin of healthy individuals: analysis of 380 healthy individuals by age and gender using a nested polymerase chain reaction assay

Microbiol Immunol. 2011 Jul;55(7):483-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1348-0421.2011.00341.x.


Deep-seated trichosporonosis is an opportunistic fungal infection with a poor prognosis and high mortality rate. The major causative agent is Trichosporon asahii; its route of infection is not clear. To elucidate whether this microorganism is part of the cutaneous microbiota, we examined skin samples from 380 healthy Japanese ranging in age from 0 to 82 years using a nested PCR assay. The colonization frequency of T. asahii increased with age up to 13-15 years in male and 30-39 years in female subjects, subsequently decreasing gradually in both sexes until senescence. Of the nine genotypes of the intergenic spacer region of the T. asahii rRNA gene, type 1 predominated (81.7%), followed by types 4 (6.7%) and 6 (5.5%). The distribution of identified genotypes was similar to that for T. asahii isolated from clinical specimens (blood and urine) of patients with deep-seated trichosporonosis and quite different from that of environmental isolates. Additionally, T. asahii DNA was detected stably from skin samples over 1 year. The opportunistic yeast pathogen T. asahii is part of the cutaneous fungal microbiota in humans. Cutaneous T. asahii may be one of the routes through which deep-seated trichosporonosis is acquired, whereas environmental T. asahii is not associated with this infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carrier State / epidemiology*
  • Carrier State / microbiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer / genetics
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycological Typing Techniques
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Skin / microbiology*
  • Trichosporon / classification
  • Trichosporon / genetics
  • Trichosporon / isolation & purification*
  • Young Adult


  • DNA, Fungal
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer