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Gut Bacteria Linked to Inflammatory Skin Disease


Research presented at the EADV Spring Symposium 2021 investigated the link between gut bacteria and skin inflammation.

At the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology’s (EADV) 2021 Spring Symposium, research was presented that suggested an imbalance in gut microbiota bacteria could play a significant role in the progression of inflammatory skin disease, Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS).1 HS is a long-term, chronic skin condition that is prone to relapsing. 

Researchers gathered 15 patients with HS and collected fecal samples. The samples were analyzed for regions of bacterial 16S ribosomal ribonucleic acid (rRNA) gene to investigate differences in their gut microbiota.

It was discovered that the relative abundance of 3 genera of bacteria—unclassified Clostridiales, unclassified Firmicutes, and Fusicatenibacter—were significantly lower in patients with HS than the controls. Lower amounts of these bacteria are known to disrupt the regulatory balance within the gut and stimulate an inflammatory response.

“Our research provides evidence that the gut-skin axis is implicated in the progression of this chronic inflammatory skin disorder. While further evidence is required, our research suggests that dietary alteration and personalized probiotic supplementation might also be beneficial for HS patients, particularly since treatment options are limited for these individuals,” said Neslihan Demirel Ogut, MD, researcher at the Uşak University Training and Research Hospital, Uşak, Turkey.

The gastrointestinal tract has a wide variety of organisms, known collectively as the gut microbiome. Several trials have demonstrated that the gut microbiome and skin are intrinsically connected. and may offer defense against pathogens in the environment. This relationship, known as the gut-skin axis, has been linked to multiple inflammatory and autoimmune skin diseases, such as acne and psoriasis.

This connection prompted researchers to analyze the composition of HS patients’ intestinal microbiome. They hypothesized that imbalance may play a role in the high inflammatory burden of this condition. HS is a multifactorial disease caused by both genetic and environmental factors. Obesity and smoking can significantly exacerbate symptoms, and both of these have an impact on the gut microbiome.

Also, it has been found that gut microbiota has a critical role in health through the development of immune response. Bacteria in the gut produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) and SCFA regulate the balance between immune cells that stimulate or suppress an inflammatory response. If this balance is disrupted, such as a reduce amount of these organisms in HS patients, it may induce an unwanted inflammatory response. 

“As one of the preliminary studies investigating HS, this pioneering research lays the foundation for future research into the management of this debilitating condition. It is an exciting breakthrough in a topic currently at the forefront of scientific research,” said Marie-Aleth Richard, PhD, a EADV board member and professor at the University Hospital of La Timone, Marseille, France.

Further studies are required to understand and explain the connections between the gut microbiota and inflammatory state in HS patients.


1. Demirel Ogut N. Link Between the Gut and Inflammatory Skin Disease Exposed. Accessed May 11, 2021. Published online May 7, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-05/sc-tro050621.php

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