Malassezia species dysbiosis in natural and allergen-induced atopic dermatitis in dogs.
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Malassezia dermatitis and otitis are recurrent features of canine atopic dermatitis, increasing the cost of care, and contributing to a reduced quality of life for the pet. The exact pathogenesis of secondary yeast infections in allergic dogs remains unclear, but some have proposed an overgrowth of M. pachydermatis to be one of the flare factors. The distribution of Malassezia populations on healthy and allergic canine skin has not been previously investigated using culture-independent methods. Skin swabs were collected from healthy, naturally affected allergic, and experimentally sensitized atopic dogs. From the extracted DNA, fungal next-generations sequencing (NGS) targeting the ITS region with phylogenetic analysis of sequences for species level classification, and Malassezia species-specific quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) were performed. M. globosa was significantly more abundant on healthy canine skin by both methods (NGS P<.0001, qPCR P<.0001). M. restricta was significantly more abundant on healthy skin by NGS (P=.0023), and M. pachydermatis was significantly more abundant on naturally-affected allergic skin by NGS (P<.0001) and on allergen-induced atopic skin lesions by qPCR (P=.0015). Shifts in Malassezia populations were not observed in correlation with the development of allergen-induced skin lesions. Differences in the lipid dependency of predominant Malassezia commensals between groups suggests a role of the skin lipid content in driving community composition and raises questions of whether targeting skin lipids with therapeutics could promote healthy Malassezia populations on canine skin.