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Summary

Although the deieterious effect of Staphylococcus aureus on atopic eczema is well recognized, the mechanism of this effect may be more complex than pyogenic infection aione. We have shown that the majority of S. aureus cuitures isoiated from atopic eczema produced exotoxins with superantigenic properties, although this was no more frequent than in a controi group, and was not restricted to one particular superantigen. However, the widespread nature of staphyiococcai infections in atopic eczema indicates that sufficient superantigen may be released to cause T-lymphocyte activation, cytokine release, and mast cell degranulation. These mechanisms could, in part, expiain the exacerbations of atopic eczema associated with S. aureus infection.