New research suggests that bacteria residing in our skin may help fight infections caused by chancroid, a sexually transmitted disease (STD) common in the developing world that has been linked to enhanced HIV transmission.
The human skin is home to a diverse community of microorganisms, collectively known as the skin microbiome.
The findings suggest that skin microbiome can influence the outcomes of a bacterial infection.
"If the bacteria in the resolvers are actually contributing to the host defense, you could think about using bacteria as a probiotic to help prevent infection or you could use the microbiome to identify people at risk for certain infections," said lead study author Stanley Spinola, professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, US.
In the new study, researchers evaluated the skin microbiome of eight individuals before, during, and after inoculation with Haemophilus ducreyi - the bacteria that cause chancroid - on the arm.
Infected individuals can either clear the infection or develop pustules that eventually form abscesses.
The investigators compared the skin microbiome in patients who resolved their H. ducreyi infection to those who did not.
The researchers discovered that preinfection skin microbiomes of pustule formers and resolvers have distinct community structures that change in response to the progression of H. ducreyi infection.
The study was published in the journal mBio