Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

Bacterial Colonization and Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma Staging

By: Dana A. Elya, MS, RD, CDN
Posted: Monday, January 6, 2020

Based on the findings of a recent study, there appears to be a strong correlation between cutaneous T-cell lymphoma staging and the rates of Staphylococcus aureus colonization. This new research was presented at the 2019 American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting & Exposition in Orlando, Florida (Abstract 659). Cosmin A. Tegla, MD, of the Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health in New York, and colleagues suggest further studies using monocolonization with single bacterial strains are necessary to further explore the role of specific bacteria and this type of lymphoma.

“Our study supports a cause-effect relationship between skin flora and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma oncogenesis. We propose that cutaneous T-cell lymphoma represents an antigen-driven malignancy,” the investigators stated.

Researchers collected skin swabs from active lesions, unaffected skin, and nares of patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. They then preformed S. aureus cultures and 16S rRNA gene sequencing. S. aureus was present at the lesion/tumor site in more than 65% of patients with advanced cutaneous T-cell lymphoma compared with patients with psoriasis and healthy controls.

The rates of S. aureus colonization correlated positively with disease stage. The 16S RNA-sequencing analysis identified that the overall skin microbiome of patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is distinct from that of healthy individuals and those with psoriasis. A significantly higher quantity of staphylococcal species and a lower phylogenic diversity were found in patients with cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. 

To determine the causal relationship between skin flora and the progression of this cutaneous type of lymphoma, Dr. Tegla and colleagues used a mouse model. Disease progression was assessed in conventionally housed specific pathogen-free conditions and in germ-free isolators. The germ free–housed mice remained disease-free or developed a mild phenotype after 11 months of follow-up; when transitioned to specific pathogen-free conditions, they all developed advanced disease.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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