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The skin microbiome: impact of modern environments on skin ecology, barrier integrity and systemic immune programming |
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The skin microbiome: impact of modern environments on skin ecology, barrier integrity and systemic immune programming

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An article published in the World Allergy Organization Journal elaborated on how the skin barrier structure and function are essential to human health. The authors stated that unrecognized functions of epidermal keratinocytes show that the skin barrier plays an important role in adapting whole-body physiology to changing environments. The skin microbiota plays an integral role in the maturation and homeostatic regulation of keratinocytes and host immune networks with systemic implications.

This article reported that the skin microbiome has the potential to predispose to not only cutaneous disease, but also other inflammatory non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Disturbances in the stratum corneum barrier function have been found in allergic diseases – like eczema and food allergy; psoriasis; rosacea; acne vulgaris; and with skin aging process. The built environment, global biodiversity losses and declining nature relatedness are contributing to erosion of diversity at a micro-ecological level, including our own microbial habitats. This emphasizes the importance of ecological perspectives in overcoming the factors that drive dysbiosis and the risk of inflammatory diseases across the life course.

Resident microbes are increasingly viewed as an integral part of the functional unit of the skin and other body surfaces, which interact with tissues and immune networks to influence the health and function not only of local systems, but wellbeing more generally. The maturation and function of the systemic immune system in young children is dependent on contact with microbes. This influences the development and function of virtually all organ systems, including the brain. Locally, microbial-immune interactions in the skin are vital for optimal barrier function, pathogen defense and tissue repair—with the production of key anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial compounds to maintain healthy tissue homeostasis.

Contrary to the general belief that the stratum corneum is merely a collection of “dead” cells, the ‘brick-and-mortar’ structure of the stratum corneum (SC) is highly biologically active and of major importance not only to skin health, but to overall health, throughout the life course.

Source: World Allergy Organization Journal. 2017. Doi: 10.1186/s40413-017-0160-5

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