Archives of Dermatological Research

, Volume 304, Issue 1, pp 15–22 | Cite as

Comparison of bacterial microbiota in skin biopsies from normal and psoriatic skin

  • Annika Fahlén
  • Lars Engstrand
  • Barbara S. Baker
  • Anne Powles
  • Lionel FryEmail author
Original Paper


Microorganisms have been implicated in the pathogenesis of psoriasis. Previous studies of psoriasis and normal skin have used swabs from the surface rather than skin biopsies. In this study, biopsies were taken from 10 patients with psoriasis and 12 control subjects from unmatched sites. Samples were analysed with massive parallel pyrosequencing on the 454 platform targeting the 16S rRNA gene and the variable regions V3–V4. The samples grouped into 19 phyla, 265 taxon and 652 operational units (OTUs) at 97% identity. A cut-off abundance level was set at 1%. The three most common phyla in both normal and psoriasis skin were Firmicutes (39% psoriasis, 43% normal skin), Proteobacteria (38% psoriasis, 27% normal skin) and Actinobacteria (5% psoriasis, 16% normal skin, p = 0.034). In trunk skin, Proteobacteria were present at significantly higher levels in psoriasis compared to controls (52 vs. 32%, p = 0.0113). The commonest genera were Streptococci in both psoriasis (32%) and normal skin (26%). Staphylococci were less common in psoriasis (5%) than in controls (16%), as were Propionibacteria (psoriasis 0.0001669%, controls 0.0254%). Both Staphylococci and Propionibacteria were significantly lower in psoriasis versus control limb skin (p = 0.051, 0.046, respectively). This study has shown some differences in microbiota between psoriasis and normal skin. Whether these are of primary aetiological significance, or secondary to the altered skin of psoriasis remains to be determined.


Microbiota Skin biopsies Psoriasis 16S rRNA 



Operational taxonomic unit


Principal coordinate analysis


Ribosomal database project


TM4 multiexperiment viewer


Basic local alignment search tool


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. 1.
    Aly R, Maibach HE, Mandel A (1976) Bacterial flora in psoriasis. Br J Dermatol 95:603–606PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Andersson AF, Lindberg M, Jakobsson H, Bached F, Nyren P, Engsrand L (2008) Comparative analysis of human gut microbiota by barcoded pyrosequencing. PlosONE 3(7):e2836Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Fry L, Baker BS (2007) Triggering psoriasis: the role of infections and medications. Clin in Dermatol 95:606–615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gao Z, Tseng C, Strober BE, Pei Z, Blasser MJ (2008) Substantial alterations of the cutaneous bacterial biota in psoriatic lesions. PLoS ONE 3:e2719PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Grice EA, Kong HH, Conlan S, Denning CB, Davis J, Young J, Young AC, Bouffard GC (2009) Topographical and temporal diversity of the human skin microbiome. Science 324:1190–1192PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Grice EA, Segre JA (2011) The skin microbiome. Nat Rev Microbiol 4:244–253CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Maidak BL, Cole JR, Lilburn TG, Parker CT Jr, Saxman PR, Stredwick JDI, Garrity GM, Olsen GJ, Pramanik S, Schmidt TM, Tiedje MJ (2000) The RDP-II (ribosomal database project). NAR 2:173–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Marguiles M, Egholm L, Altman WE, Attiya S et al (2005) Genome sequencing in microfabricated high-density picolitre reactors. Nature 437(7057):376–380Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    McFadden JP, Baker BS, Powles AV, Fry L (2009) Psoriasis and streptococci: the natural selection of psoriasis revisited. Br J Dermatol 160:929–937PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Munz OH, Sela S, Baker BS, Griffiths CEM, Powles AV, Fry L (2010) Evidence for the presence of bacteria of bacteria in the blood of psoriasis patients. Arch Dermatol Res 382:495–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Nakatsuji T et al (2011) Annual meeting of the society for investigative dermatology in phoenix, Arizona. J Invest Dermatol 131(Suppl 1):S102Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Norrlind R (1955) Significance of infections in origin of psoriasis. Acta Rhematol Scand 1:135–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Osterlund A, Engstrand L (1997) An intracellular sanctuary for Streptococcus pyogenes in human tonsillar epithelium—studies of asymptomatic carriers and in cultured biopsies. Acta Otolaryngol 117:883–888PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Snelling AM, Saville T, Stevens T, Beggs CB (2011) Comparative evaluation of the hygienic efficacy of an ultra-rapid hand dryer versus conventional warm air hand dryers. J Appl Microbiol 110:19–26PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Tervaert WE, Esseveld H (1970) A study of the incidence of haemolytic streptococci in the throat of patients with psoriasis vulgaris, with reference to their role in the pathogenesis of the disease. Dermatologica 140:282–290PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Turnbaugh PJ, Ley RE, Hamady M, Fraser-Liggett CM, Knight R, Gordon JI (2007) The human microbiome project. Nature 449(7164):804–810PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annika Fahlén
    • 1
  • Lars Engstrand
    • 1
    • 2
  • Barbara S. Baker
    • 3
  • Anne Powles
    • 4
  • Lionel Fry
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell BiologyKarolinska InstituteSolnaSweden
  2. 2.Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease ControlSolnaSweden
  3. 3.LondonUK
  4. 4.Faculty of MedicineImperial CollegeLondonUK
  5. 5.The Skin HospitalDublinIreland

Personalised recommendations