The Skin Microbiome In Healthy Skin And Atopic Dermatitis
The varied topography of human skin offers a unique opportunity to study the body’s microenvironments and the functional and taxonomic composition of microbial communities. The general accessibility of skin also enables longitudinal clinical studies throughout the course of disease. Metagenomic analyses of diverse body sites in healthy humans have defined the skin microbiome as shaped by the local biogeography, yet marked by strong individuality. Additionally, strain-level variation of dominant species were heterogeneous and multiphyletic in healthy adults. Re-sampling months and years later revealed that despite the skin’s exposure to the external environment, the bacterial, fungal, and viral communities were largely stable over time. Strain and single nucleotide variant level analysis showed that individuals maintain, rather than reacquire prevalent microbes from the environment. Longitudinal stability of skin microbial communities informs clinical studies exploring alterations observed in disease states, such as the inflammatory skin disorder atopic dermatitis (commonly known as eczema). We are integrating shotgun metagenomic sequencing, culturing, and animal models to improve our understanding of atopic dermatitis.