Nasal microbiome disruption and recovery after mupirocin treatment in Staphylococcus aureus carriers and noncarriers

Sci Rep. 2022 Nov 17;12(1):19738. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-21453-4.


Nasal decolonization procedures against the opportunistic pathogen Staphylococcus aureus rely on topical antimicrobial drug usage, whose impact on the nasal microbiota is poorly understood. We examined this impact in healthy S. aureus carriers and noncarriers. This is a prospective interventional cohort study of 8 S. aureus carriers and 8 noncarriers treated with nasal mupirocin and chlorhexidine baths. Sequential nasal swabs were taken over 6 months. S. aureus was detected by quantitative culture and genotyped using spa typing. RNA-based 16S species-level metabarcoding was used to assess the living microbial diversity. The species Dolosigranulum pigrum, Moraxella nonliquefaciens and Corynebacterium propinquum correlated negatively with S. aureus carriage. Mupirocin treatment effectively eliminated S. aureus, D. pigrum and M. nonliquefaciens, but not corynebacteria. S. aureus recolonization in carriers occurred more rapidly than recolonization by the dominant species in noncarriers (median 3 vs. 6 months, respectively). Most recolonizing S. aureus isolates had the same spa type as the initial isolate. The impact of mupirocin-chlorhexidine treatment on the nasal microbiota was still detectable after 6 months. S. aureus recolonization predated microbiota recovery, emphasizing the strong adaptation of this pathogen to the nasal niche and the transient efficacy of the decolonization procedure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carrier State / drug therapy
  • Carrier State / microbiology
  • Chlorhexidine / pharmacology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Microbiota* / genetics
  • Mupirocin / pharmacology
  • Mupirocin / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / drug therapy
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / microbiology
  • Staphylococcus aureus


  • Mupirocin
  • Chlorhexidine