Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Induces a Transmissible Dysbiotic Skin Microbiota that Promotes Skin Inflammation

Cell Host Microbe. 2017 Jul 12;22(1):13-24.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2017.06.006. Epub 2017 Jun 29.


Skin microbiota can impact allergic and autoimmune responses, wound healing, and anti-microbial defense. We investigated the role of skin microbiota in cutaneous leishmaniasis and found that human patients infected with Leishmania braziliensis develop dysbiotic skin microbiota, characterized by increases in the abundance of Staphylococcus and/or Streptococcus. Mice infected with L. major exhibit similar changes depending upon disease severity. Importantly, this dysbiosis is not limited to the lesion site, but is transmissible to normal skin distant from the infection site and to skin from co-housed naive mice. This observation allowed us to test whether a pre-existing dysbiotic skin microbiota influences disease, and we found that challenging dysbiotic naive mice with L. major or testing for contact hypersensitivity results in exacerbated skin inflammatory responses. These findings demonstrate that a dysbiotic skin microbiota is not only a consequence of tissue stress, but also enhances inflammation, which has implications for many inflammatory cutaneous diseases.

Keywords: cutaneous inflammation; dysbiosis; leishmania; microbiota; skin.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dysbiosis / etiology*
  • Dysbiosis / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Inflammation* / immunology
  • Inflammation* / microbiology
  • Leishmania braziliensis / pathogenicity*
  • Leishmania major / immunology
  • Leishmania major / pathogenicity
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / complications*
  • Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microbiota / immunology
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Skin / immunology*
  • Skin / microbiology
  • Skin / parasitology
  • Staphylococcus / immunology
  • Staphylococcus / pathogenicity
  • Streptococcus / immunology
  • Streptococcus / pathogenicity