Intestinal Dysbiosis and Biotin Deprivation Induce Alopecia through Overgrowth of Lactobacillus murinus in Mice

Cell Rep. 2017 Aug 15;20(7):1513-1524. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2017.07.057.


Metabolism by the gut microbiota affects host physiology beyond the gastrointestinal tract. Here, we find that antibiotic-induced dysbiosis, in particular, overgrowth of Lactobacillus murinus (L. murinus), impaired gut metabolic function and led to the development of alopecia. While deprivation of dietary biotin per se did not affect skin physiology, its simultaneous treatment with vancomycin resulted in hair loss in specific pathogen-free (SPF) mice. Vancomycin treatment induced the accumulation of L. murinus in the gut, which consumes residual biotin and depletes available biotin in the gut. Consistently, L. murinus induced alopecia when monocolonized in germ-free mice fed a biotin-deficient diet. Supplementation of biotin can reverse established alopecia symptoms in the SPF condition, indicating that L. murinus plays a central role in the induction of hair loss via a biotin-dependent manner. Collectively, our results indicate that luminal metabolic alterations associated with gut dysbiosis and dietary modifications can compromise skin physiology.

Keywords: Lactobacillus murinus; alopecia; biotin-deficiency; dysbiosis; gut microbiota; metabolome; microbiome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / chemically induced
  • Alopecia / metabolism
  • Alopecia / microbiology*
  • Alopecia / pathology
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Biotin / deficiency*
  • Diet / adverse effects
  • Dysbiosis / chemically induced
  • Dysbiosis / metabolism
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology*
  • Dysbiosis / pathology
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Lactobacillus / genetics
  • Lactobacillus / growth & development*
  • Male
  • Metagenome
  • Mice
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics*
  • Skin / microbiology
  • Skin / pathology
  • Vancomycin / pharmacology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Vancomycin
  • Biotin