, Volume 175, Issue 1–2, pp 83–89 | Cite as

Identification of Malassezia Species in Patients with Seborrheic Dermatitis in China

  • Hao Zhang
  • Yuping RanEmail author
  • Zhen Xie
  • Ruifeng Zhang



The causes of seborrheic dermatitis (SD) are complex and incompletely understood. Among the factors, Malassezia yeasts have been reported to play a major etiological role in SD. Many previous studies adopted conventional culture methods that were disadvantaged to detect Malassezia microflora in SD patients, resulting in a low detection rate for each species and high variance in types of microflora observed.


This study analyzed Malassezia microflora in SD patients by applying a transparent dressing to the lesional skin and using direct detection of fungal DNA using nested PCR.


We collected samples from the lesional skin of 146 SD patients in China and extracted fungal DNA directly from the lesional samples without culture. Specific primers for each Malassezia species were designed to amplify existing yeasts in each sample. Some samples were randomly selected to culture and identified by morphological and physiologic criteria.


M. globosa and M. restricta were found in 87.0 and 81.5 % of seborrheic dermatitis patients, respectively, which together accounted for more than 50 % of Malassezia spp. recovered in these Chinese patients. The majority of SD patients (82.9 %) showed co-colonization of two or more Malassezia species.


M. globosa and M. restricta predominated in Malassezia colonization in Chinese SD patients. Compared with conventional culture, non-culture-based methods may more accurately reflect Malassezia microflora constitution.


Malassezia Nested PCR Seborrheic dermatitis 



This work was funded by Project 31100020 and 30570095 of the National Natural Science Foundation of China and supported in part by research grants from Department of Health of Sichuan Province (100141) and scientific research project of North Sichuan Medical College (MP-ZK-34).

Conflict of interest



  1. 1.
    Gerd P, Thomas J. Seborrheic dermatitis. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, Katz SI, Gilchrest BA, Paller AS, Leffell DJ, editors. Fitzpatrick’s dermatology in general medicine. 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill; 2008. p. 1822–30.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Naldi L, Rebora A. Clinical practice. Seborrheic dermatitis. N Engl J Med. 2009;360:387–96.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ro BI, Dawson TL. The role of sebaceous gland activity and scalp microfloral metabolism in the etiology of seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2005;10:194–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Crespo EV, Delgado FV. Malassezia species in skin disease. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2002;15:133–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Nakabayashi A, Sei Y, Guillot J. Identification of Malassezia species isolated from patients with seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, pityriasis versicolor and normal subjects. Med Mycol. 2000;38:337–41.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Gupta AK, Kohli Y, Summerbell RC, Faergemann J. Quantitative culture of Malassezia species from different body sites of individuals with or without dermatoses. Med Mycol. 2001;39:243–51.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Falk SMH, Linder MT, Johansson C, Bartosik J, Back O, Sarnhult T, Wahlgren CF, Scheynius A, Faergemann J. The prevalence of Malassezia yeasts in patients with atopic dermatitis, seborrhoeic dermatitis and healthy controls. Acta Derm Venereol. 2005;85:17–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sugita T, Suto H, Unno T, Tsuboi R, Ogawa H, Shinoda T, Nishikawa A. Molecular analysis of Malassezia microflora on the skin of atopic dermatitis patients and healthy subjects. J Clin Microbiol. 2001;39:3486–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Sugita T, Tajima M, Tsubuku H, Tsuboi R, Nishikawa A. Quantitative analysis of cutaneous Malassezia in atopic dermatitis patients using real-time PCR. Microbiol Immunol. 2006;50:549–52.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Sugita T, Tajima M, Amaya M, Tsuboi R, Nishikawa A. Genotype analysis of Malassezia restricta as the major cutaneous flora in patients with atopic dermatitis and healthy subjects. Microbiol Immunol. 2004;48:755–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Sugita T, Suzuki M, Goto S, Nishikawa A, Hiruma M, Yamazaki T, Makimura K. Quantitative analysis of the cutaneous Malassezia microbiota in 770 healthy Japanese by age and gender using a real-time PCR assay. Med Mycol. 2010;48:229–33.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gemmer CM, DeAngelis YM, Theelen B, Boekhout T, Dawson TL Jr. Fast, noninvasive method for molecular detection and differentiation of Malassezia yeast species on human skin and application of the method to dandruff microbiology. J Clin Microbiol. 2002;40:3350–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Xu J, Saunders CW, Hu P, et al. Dandruff-associated Malassezia genomes reveal convergent and divergent virulence traits shared with plant and human fungal pathogens. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007;104:18730–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    DeAngelis YM, Gemmer CM, Kaczvinsky JR, Kenneally DC, Schwartz JR, Dawson TL Jr. Three etiologic facets of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis: Malassezia fungi, sebaceous lipids, and individual sensitivity. J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2005;10:295–7.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Piérard-Franchimont C, Xhauflaire-Uhoda E, Piérard GE. Revisiting dandruff. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2006;28:311–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Aspiroz C, Moreno LA, Rezusta A, Rubio C. Differentiation of three biotypes of Malassezia species on human normal skin: correspondence with M. globosa, M. sympodialis and M. restricta. Mycopathologia. 1999;145:69–74.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Tajima M, Sugita T, Nishikawa A, et al. Molecular analysis of Malassezia microflora in seborrheic dermatitis patients: comparison with other diseases and healthy subjects. J Invest Dermatol. 2008;128:345–51.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Prohic A, Kasumagic-Halilovic E. Identification of Malassezia species from immunocompetent and immunocompromised patients with seborrheic dermatitis. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2010;14:1019–23.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Lee YW, Byun HJ, Kim BJ, et al. Distribution of Malassezia species on the scalp in Korean seborrheic dermatitis patients. Ann Dermatol. 2011;23:156–61.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Oh BH, Lee YW, Choe YB, Ahn KJ. Epidemiologic study of Malassezia yeasts in seborrheic dermatitis patients by the analysis of 26S rDNA PCR-RFLP. Ann Dermatol. 2010;22:149–55.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Crespo EV, Ojeda MAA, Vera CA, Crespo EA, Sánchez FF. Isolation and identification of Malassezia spp. In pytiriasis versicolor, seborrheic dermatitis and healthy skin. Rev Iberoam Micol. 1999;16:S16–21.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Gaitanis G, Velegraki A, Alexopoulos EC, Chasapi V, Tsigonia A, Katsambas A. Distribution of Malassezia species in pityriasis versicolor and seborrhoeic dermatitis in Greece. Typing of the major pityriasis versicolor isolate M. globosa. Br J Dermatol. 2006;154:854–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hao Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yuping Ran
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zhen Xie
    • 1
  • Ruifeng Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Dermatovenerology, West China HospitalSichuan UniversityChengduPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of DermatovenerologyAffiliated Hospital of North Sichuan Medical CollegeNanchongPeople’s Republic of China

Personalised recommendations