Altering the skin’s microbiome could impact canine atopic dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (AD), a chronic inflammatory skin condition, affects 10 to 15 percent of canines, according to the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A new study, however, suggests a non-antibiotic solution.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania surfaced a correlation between the skin barrier function, the immune system, and microbes, and suggest that altering the skin’s microbiome could offer relief.

The study was published in The Journal of Investigative Dermatology on Feb. 6.

In the study, the researchers tracked the bacterial populations, or “microbiomes,” on dogs’ skin, and key properties of the skin’s barrier function during an occurrence of AD, and again after standard treatment with antibiotics.

During the flare, researchers observed a sharp decrease in the diversity of the skin bacterial population as certain bacterial species proliferated, along with a decrease in the skin’s protective barrier. With antibiotic therapy, both measures returned to normal levels.

“In both canine and human atopic dermatitis we hypothesize there is a similar relationship among skin barrier function, the immune system, and microbes, even if the individual microbe species aren’t identical,” said senior author Elizabeth A. Grice, PhD, an assistant professor of Dermatology and Microbiology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

“The hope is that insights gained from this study and others like it will enable us one day to treat this condition by altering the skin’s microbiome without antibiotics.”

Photo credit: © iStock/paisan191

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