Overcoming pH defenses on the skin to establish infections

PLoS Pathog. 2022 May 26;18(5):e1010512. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1010512. eCollection 2022 May.


Skin health is influenced by the composition and integrity of the skin barrier. The healthy skin surface is an acidic, hypertonic, proteinaceous, and lipid-rich environment that microorganisms must adapt to for survival, and disruption of this environment can result in dysbiosis and increase risk for infectious diseases. This work provides a brief overview of skin barrier function and skin surface composition from the perspective of how the most common skin pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus, combats acid stress. Advancements in replicating this environment in the laboratory setting for the study of S. aureus pathogenesis on the skin, as well as future directions in this field, are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Dysbiosis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Skin / pathology
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / pathology
  • Staphylococcus aureus*

Grant support

We acknowledge support by the National Institutes of Health (https://www.nih.gov) grant AI153185 (granted to ARH) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (https://www.research.va.gov/services/shared_docs/resources.cfm) Merit Award BX002711 (granted to ARH). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.