Dysbiosis of skin microbiota is associated with several inflammatory skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis, acne, and hidradenitis suppurativa. There is a surge of interest by clinicians and the lay public to explore targeted bacteriotherapy to treat these dermatologic conditions. To date, skin microbiota transplantation studies have focused on moving single, enriched strains of bacteria to target sites rather than a whole community. In this prospective pilot study, we examined the feasibility of transferring unenriched skin microbiota communities between two anatomical sites of the same host. We enrolled four healthy volunteers (median age: 28 [range: 24, 36] years; 2 [50%] female) who underwent collection and transfer of skin microbiota from the forearm to the back unidirectionally. Using culture methods and 16S rRNA V1-V3 deep sequencing, we compared baseline and mixed ("transplant") communities, at T = 0 and T = 24 hours. Our ability to detect movement from one site to the other relied on the inherent diversity of the microenvironment of the antecubital fossa relative to the less diverse back. Comparing bacterial species present in the arm and mixed ("transplant") communities that were absent from the baseline back, we saw evidence of transfer of a partial DNA signature; our methods limit conclusions regarding the viability of transferred organisms. We conclude that unenriched transfer of whole cutaneous microbiota is challenging, but our simple technique, intended to move viable skin organisms from one site to another, is worthy of further investigation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas