The cutaneous ecosystem: the roles of the skin microbiome in health and its association with inflammatory skin conditions in humans and animals
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BACKGROUND: Inhabiting a sterile world is no longer an acceptable or desirable concept. Recent studies developed in the microbiome field have unveiled complex microbial populations inhabiting the skin, digestive, respiratory and reproductive tracts. Microbiome studies have opened new venues to explore the human and animal second genome, its functions and its importance in maintaining health. SKIN MICROBIOME IN HEALTH: The composition of the skin microbiome varies across different body sites and across individuals, being influenced by different host habits, including for instance age, sex, diet, hygiene and lifestyle. Exposure to a diverse skin microbiome is now considered to be a key component in immune regulation, and imbalances in these microbial populations are being associated with human and animal skin inflammatory disorders. SKIN MICROBIOME IN INFLAMMATORY SKIN CONDITIONS: We have learned that in several skin conditions, there is a significant alteration in the diversity and composition of the microbiota colonizing the skin. For instance, in human and animal patients with atopic dermatitis, dysbiosis of the skin microbiota results in lower diversity of microbial populations. Whether these altered microbial populations are the cause or the effect of inflammatory skin conditions seen in humans and animals are still under investigation, but there is no doubt that the microbiome has an important role in maintaining skin health. SUMMARY: This review focuses on the most current studies describing the skin microbiome in humans and animals, its role in modulating the immune system, and its association with human and animal skin diseases.
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