Background About 90% of patients with atopic dermatitis (AD) are colonized with Staphylococcus aureus. S. aureus worsens AD by secreting superantigens and structural molecules within the cell wall that induce skin inflammation. Therefore, S. aureus in the home may contribute to persistent skin inflammation and disease severity.
Objective To quantify S. aureus burden in homes of participants with AD of varying severities.
Methods Participants with mild (n=18), moderate (n=14), severe (n=15), and no AD (n=15), collected dust from their bed and bedroom floor, and from their home vacuum cleaner bag. DNA was extracted from dust samples, and the S. aureus-specific femB gene was quantified using quantitative real-time PCR. Data was log-transformed, and then statistically analysed with anova, student's t-test, and Spearman's r.
Results Participants with severe AD (geometric mean: 14.67 pg/mg dust) had significantly more S. aureus DNA in their bed dust than those with moderate (0.41 pg/mg dust, P<0.0001), mild (1.42 pg/mg dust, P=0.0051), and no AD [0.09 pg/mg dust, P<0.0001 (t-test)]. Similar patterns were observed for dust from the bedroom floors and vacuum bags. S. aureus DNA was highest in dust from beds as compared with bedroom floors or vacuum bags (medians: 1.51, 0.69, 0.21 pg/mg dust, respectively; P=0.007). Eczema Area and Severity Index scores correlated with S. aureus DNA from the bed (Spearman's r=0.7263; P=0.0004) and floor (0.6846; P=0.0002) dust, but not with the vacuum bag dust (0.3783; 0.0684).
Conclusions In the home and especially the bedroom, higher levels of S. aureus may contribute to disease severity and persistence in AD patients.