Skin is the largest organ of the
human body and the molecular composition of skin is derived from external
molecules and microbes. This composition prevents the body against infection
and protects skin diseases and disorders.
A new study from the San Diego Skaggs School of
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California, demonstrates
that skin composition is defined not only by cells and microbes but also
by our daily routines, including the use of hygiene products.
Pieter Dorrestein, PhD, professor
at the pharmaceutical
science center and his research team, have developed 3D human skin maps that display
molecules that make up our skin and the microbes that live on us. The team swabbed roughly 400 different body sites of two healthy adult volunteers to collect information about the skin composition and produce three-dimensional
maps of molecular and microbial variations across the body.
The volunteers, one male and one female, were made to
stay away from hygienic habits like body washing and usage of moisturizers for
Scientists used a sophisticated technique such as mass spectrometry to
determine the molecular and chemical composition of the samples. To map their
locations across the body, the team also sequenced microbial DNA in the
samples. The team constructed 3D models that illustrated the data for each
sampling spot using a fourth-generation programming language.
Dorrestein said that though there was a three-day moratorium on
personal hygiene products, the most abundant molecular features in the skin
swabs still came from daily hygiene and beauty products
, such as sunscreen.
"This is the first study of its
kind to characterize the surface distribution of skin molecules and pair that
data with microbial diversity. Previous studies were limited to select areas of
the skin, rather than the whole body, and examined skin chemistry and microbial
populations separately. This
finding indicates that 3D skin maps are able to detect both current and past
behaviors and environmental exposures," Dorrestein said.
Dorrestein pointed out that the findings would lead to future
investigations into how personal hygiene and beauty practices influence our
health and susceptibility to disease.
"The 3D maps show that human skin is not just made up
of molecules derived from human or bacterial cells. Skin's chemical composition
is also contributed by the external environment such as plastics found in
clothing, diet, hygiene and beauty products," he added.
study, published on March 30 by Proceedings of the National Academy of
, may help further our understanding of the skin's role in human
health and disease. This study
was funded by Science Without Borders Program, European Union 7th Framework
Program, San Diego Center for Systems Biology, Keck Foundation, Howard Hughes
Medical Institute and the National Institutes of Health.
Study co-authors include Amina Bouslimani, Carla Porto, Christopher M.
Rath, Mingxun Wang, Yurong Guo, Nakatsuji Teruaki, Lingjuan Zhang, Andrew W.
Borkowski, Michael J. Meehan, Kathleen Dorrestein, Richard L. Gallo, Nuno
Bandeira, and Rob Knight, UC San Diego; Antonio Gonzalez, Donna Berg-Lyon, and
Gail Ackermann, University of Colorado at Boulder; Gitte Julie Moeller
Christensen, UC San Diego and Aarhus University; Theodore Alexandrov, UC San
Diego, University of Bremen, Steinbeis Innovation Center SCiLS Research and