Organisms that live on your skin help heal your wounds



The scope of influence that the benign microorganisms residing in our bodies — known as our microbiome — have on health and disease is only now being fully contemplated. Significant work remains to understand the players and interactions that link these microbes, their host, and the environment in the emerging view of individuals as highly interdependent and integrated ‘meta-organisms.’


IRP researchers lead by Yasmine Belkaid, Ph.D., were the first to demonstrate that the immune system’s response to the organisms that make up our microbiomes can assist in tissue repair. They discovered a biological process triggered by injury that alters the way immune cells called T cells respond to our native microorganisms in order to rapidly facilitate healing.


This work furthers the understanding of the intricate, and often very local, interactions between the tissue microenvironment, the microorganisms that reside in our bodies, and the unique qualities of immune responses to those microbes. These findings could help scientists understand the factors that control the balance between normal physiology and processes that threaten to damage the body.


Harrison OJ, Linehan JL, Shih HY, Bouladoux N, Han SJ, Smelkinson M, Sen SK, Byrd AL, Enamorado M, Yao C, Tamoutounour S, Van Laethem F, Hurabielle C, Collins N, Paun A, Salcedo R, O'Shea JJ, Belkaid Y. (2019). Commensal-specific T cell plasticity promotes rapid tissue adaptation to injury. Science. 363(6422).

Linehan JL, Harrison OJ, Han SJ, Byrd AL, Vujkovic-Cvijin I, Villarino AV, Sen SK, Shaik J, Smelkinson M, Tamoutounour S, Collins N, Bouladoux N, Dzutsev A, Rosshart SP, Arbuckle JH, Wang CR, Kristie TM, Rehermann B, Trinchieri G, Brenchley JM, O'Shea JJ, Belkaid Y. (2018). Non-classical immunity controls microbiota impact on skin immunity and tissue repair. Cell. 172(4):784-796.

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This page was last updated on Friday, June 9, 2023