The microbiology and treatment of human mastitis

Med Microbiol Immunol. 2018 Apr;207(2):83-94. doi: 10.1007/s00430-017-0532-z. Epub 2018 Jan 19.


Mastitis, which is generally described as an inflammation of breast tissue, is a common and debilitating disease which frequently results in the cessation of exclusive breastfeeding and affects up to 33% of lactating women. The condition is a primary cause of decreased milk production and results in organoleptic and nutritional alterations in milk quality. Recent studies employing culture-independent techniques, including metagenomic sequencing, have revealed a loss of bacterial diversity in the microbiome of mastitic milk samples compared to healthy milk samples. In those infected, the pathogens Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and members of corynebacteria have been identified as the predominant etiological agents in acute, subacute and granulomatous mastitis, respectively. The increased incidence of antibiotic resistance in the causative species is also a key cause of concern for treatment of the disease, thus leading to the need to develop novel therapies. In this respect, probiotics and bacteriocins have revealed potential as alternative treatments.

Keywords: Antibiotics; Bacteriocins; Human mastitis; Microbiota; Probiotics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actinomycetales / isolation & purification*
  • Actinomycetales Infections / epidemiology
  • Actinomycetales Infections / microbiology
  • Actinomycetales Infections / therapy
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biological Therapy / methods
  • Drug Resistance, Bacterial
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mastitis / epidemiology
  • Mastitis / microbiology*
  • Mastitis / therapy*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / therapy
  • Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*
  • Staphylococcus epidermidis / isolation & purification*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents