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Superantigen Encoding Genes in Staphylococcus aureus Isolated from Lesional Skin, Non-Lesional Skin, and Nares of Patients with Atopic Dermatitis.

Patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) are more likely than healthy individuals to harbour Staphylococcus aureus on their skin. Superantigens (SAgs) produced by specific S. aureus strains may contribute to AD-associated skin inflammation. The present study compared the prevalence and types of SAg-encoding genes between S. aureus isolated from patients with AD and from  controls, and within the AD group between isolates from different sampling sites (lesional skin, non-lesional skin, and nares). This retrospective case-control study extracted data from 2 previous studies that examined S. aureus using whole-genome sequencing. The 138 S. aureus isolates obtained from 71 AD patients contained 349 SAg-encoding genes; 22 (6.3%) were found in isolates from nares (0.4 ± 0.6 genes per isolate), 99 (28.4%) in isolates from non-lesional skin (3.7 ± 3.9), and 228 (65.3%) in isolates from lesional skin (4.2 ± 4.5). S. aureus (n = 101) from the control group contained 594 SAg-encoding genes (5.9 ± 4.2). Of the S. aureus isolated from lesional AD skin, 69% carried at least 1 gene encoding SAg compared with 33% of AD nasal isolates. SAg could be a factor in the pathogenesis of a subset of AD patients.

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