A common bacteria present on human skin and previously considered harmless, may, in fact, be the causative agent of chronic sinusitis (a painful, recurring swelling of the sinuses).
According to a study by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, sinusitis may be linked to the loss of the normal microbial population within the sinuses following an infection. Here the infection leads to the colonization of the sinuses by an invasive bacterium, called Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum.
Sinusitis is inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, which may be due to infection, allergy, or autoimmune issues. The symptoms include headache, facial pain or pressure of a dull, constant, or aching sort over the affected sinuses.
To reach their conclusion, as the research brief outlines, the scientists compared the microbial communities in samples from the sinuses of ten people with sinusitis and from ten healthy people. The research showed that the sinusitis patients lacked a range of bacteria that were present in the healthy individuals. The group with sinusitis also had high levels of the bacterium Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum in their sinuses.
The absence of certain normal bacteria was important, since such bacteria provide a type of protective ‘microbial shield’. The Scientist notes that researchers identified that a common bacterium found within the sinuses of healthy people, called Lactobacillus sakei, was important in order to help the body fight off sinusitis. This was established from laboratory experiments where mice were inoculated with this bacterium. These mice were able to defend themselves against the invasive bacterium.
The research was led by Susan Lynch and the findings were published in in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The reference is:
N. A. Abreu et al. Sinus Microbiome Diversity Depletion and Corynebacterium tuberculostearicum Enrichment Mediates Rhinosinusitis. Science Translational Medicine, 2012; 4 (151)