Skin bacteria make the immune system fit

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Bacteria on the skin support immune fitness

Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda have discovered in the course of research that not only bacteria from the intestinal flora support the immune system. The colonization of bacteria on human skin also protects health. Excessive cleanliness can therefore be harmful to health.

Naturopaths know that the intestinal flora should be built up especially after antibiotic therapy to support the immune system (build up intestinal flora). However, not only in the intestinal flora countless bacteria live in an "evolutionary partnership with humans", but also on the skin, as a study showed, which was published in the journal "Science" (2012; doi: 10.1126 / science.1225152).

Bacteria colonize the skin The US research team led by Yasmine Belkaid from the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda has worked in an experiment with aseptic mice. When the first study was set up, the animal skin was colonized with the Staphylococcus epidermidis bacterial strain. These bacteria also occur as harmless germs on the skin in humans. The animals' skin was then contaminated with the Leishmania major pathogen. The pathogen (protozoon) is responsible for numerous animal diseases and can trigger the tropical disease leishmaniasis in humans. As expected, the infection caused a typical defense reaction in the rodents. T cells were formed to eliminate the pest.

In the second set-up, germ-free mice were infected with the Leishmania major pathogen without the addition of Staphylococcus epidermidis bacteria. Now the formation of T cells in the second group failed to materialize. "Our result suggests that normal bacterial colonization of the skin trains and thus strengthens the immune system's immune system," the researchers conclude in the study report.

Skin flora activates immune fitness The cytokine "Interleukin-1" was significantly involved in the immunizing reaction, which is also involved in the development of psoriasis and other inflammatory skin diseases. The study leader Yasmine Belkaid therefore suspects in her report that the skin flora has an influence on the development of skin diseases through the activation of the special proteins. In their view, the knowledge gained could lead to the development of new “rational therapies”. The researcher thinks in particular of vaccines and skin-specific enhancers.

Colonization leads to local effects. However, further study set-ups showed that bacterial colonization of the intestine cannot influence the immune defense of the skin. From this, the scientists conclude that bacterial skin colonization only has a regional influence on the preparedness to defend itself. This apparently also applies to the skin, the intestines of the lungs or other organs. Further studies are necessary to confirm the assumptions. (sb)

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