Mechanisms of Microbial Pathogenesis and the Role of the Skin Microbiome in Psoriasis: A Review

Clin Dermatol. Mar-Apr 2019;37(2):160-166. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2019.01.011. Epub 2019 Jan 16.


The pathogenesis of psoriasis may involve a breakdown of immune tolerance to cutaneous microorganisms. Psoriasis is associated with a higher incidence of Crohn disease and periodontitis, two diseases involving impaired tolerance and abnormal immune activation in response to intestinal and oral microbiota, respectively. In addition, guttate and chronic plaque psoriasis are associated with Streptococcus pyogenes colonization. The aim of this review is to characterize the microorganisms implicated in psoriasis by examining results of major association studies and possible mechanisms of pathogenesis. Although studies show relative increases in Streptococcus and Staphylococcus and decreases in Malassezia and Cutibacterium, they differ in methods of sampling and methods of microbial analysis. As such, no definitive associations between microbes and psoriasis have been found to date. It also remains unclear if changes in the microbiomal composition have a causal association with psoriasis or are simply a consequence of the inflammatory microenvironment. Techniques enabling strain-level analysis rather than species-level analysis of the skin microbiome are likely necessary to determine microbiomal signatures of psoriasis. Future investigations may lead to new diagnostic tests and novel treatments, such as probiotics or bacterial transplantation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Therapy
  • Candida albicans / immunology
  • Candida albicans / pathogenicity
  • Crohn Disease
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Malassezia / immunology
  • Malassezia / pathogenicity
  • Periodontitis
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage
  • Psoriasis / diagnosis
  • Psoriasis / immunology*
  • Psoriasis / microbiology*
  • Psoriasis / therapy
  • Skin / immunology*
  • Skin / microbiology*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / immunology
  • Staphylococcus aureus / pathogenicity
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / immunology
  • Streptococcus pyogenes / pathogenicity