The follicular skin microbiome in patients with hidradenitis suppurativa and healthy controls

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IMPORTANCE: Although the pathogenesis of hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) remains enigmatic, several factors point to potential involvement of the cutaneous microbiome. Insight into the cutaneous microbiome in HS using next-generation sequencing may provide novel data on the microbiological diversity of the skin. 

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the follicular skin microbiome in patients with HS and in healthy controls. 

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This case-control study obtained punch biopsy specimens from patients with HS (lesional and nonlesional) and healthy controls between October 1, 2014, and August 1, 2016. Data were analyzed from March to November 2016. Patients with HS were recruited from the Department of Dermatology, Zealand University Hospital, Roskilde, Denmark. Biopsy specimens were analyzed at the Department of Microbiology and Infection Control, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark. None of the participants received any antibiotics (systemic or topical therapy) within 1 month before the study. In patients with HS, biopsy specimens were obtained from lesional skin (axilla or groin) and nonlesional skin. Only nodules containing at least 1 visible hair follicle were biopsied. Biopsy specimens from healthy controls were obtained from the axilla only. 

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: The different microbiomes were investigated using next-generation sequencing targeting 16S and 18S ribosomal RNA. 

RESULTS: The skin microbiome was characterized in 30 patients with HS (mean [SD] age, 46.9 [14.0] years; 19 [63% female]) and 24 healthy controls (mean [SD] age, 32.2 [12.0] years; 13 [54% female]). The next-generation sequencing data provided a previously unreported (to our knowledge) characterization of the skin microbiome in HS. The study demonstrated that the microbiome in HS differs significantly from that in healthy controls in lesional and nonlesional skin. Overall, the following 5 microbiome types were identified: Corynebacterium species (type I), Acinetobacter and Moraxella species (type II), Staphylococcus epidermidis (type III), Porphyromonas and Peptoniphilus species (type IV), and Propionibacterium acnes (type V). In lesional skin, microbiome types consisted predominantly of type I or type IV. Microbiome type IV was not detected in healthy controls. Several taxa, including Propionibacterium, showed a significantly higher relative abundance in healthy controls vs HS skin, indicating that Propionibacterium may be part of the pathogenesis in HS. 

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The study findings suggest a link between a dysbiotic cutaneous microbiome and HS.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJAMA Dermatology
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)897-905
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2017

ID: 183832139