Deciphering the role of skin surface microbiome on skin health: an integrative multi-omics approach reveals three distinct microbial / metabolic clusters


The advent of 16S RNA profiling and shotgun metagenomics has enabled a holistic approach to the study of the skin microbiome composition. Despite the interesting findings in this rapidly developing scientific area, the big question remains: What role does the microbiome play in skin physiology? To begin answering this question, we employed an integrative methodology for microbiome and metabolome analysis of skin surface samples collected from the volar forearm of healthy infants aged 3–6-months. Whereas the infant skin metabolome was dominated by amino acids, lipids, and xenobiotics, the primary phyla of the microbiome were Firmicutes, Actinobacteria, and Proteobacteria. Zooming in on the species level revealed a large contribution of commensals belonging to the Cutibacterium and Staphylococcus genera, including Cutibacterium acnes, Staphylococcus epidermidis, and S. aureus. This heterogeneity was further highlighted when combining the microbiome with metabolome data. Integrative analyses delineated the coexistence of three distinct metabolite‒microbe clusters: one dominated by Cutibacterium linked to hydrophobic elements of the skin barrier, one associating Staphylococcus genus with amino acids relevant to the water holding capacity and pH regulation of the skin surface, and one characterized by Streptococcus and independent of any particular metabolomic profile.

In Journal of Investigative Biology