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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2003 May;22(5):306-9. Epub 2003 May 13.

High prevalence of superantigens associated with the egc locus in Staphylococcus aureus isolates from patients with atopic eczema.

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Klinik und Poliklinik für Dermatologie und Allergologie am Biederstein der Technischen Universität München, Biedersteiner Strasse 29, 80802, Munich, Germany.


The present study was aimed at identifying a possible correlation between disease severity and colonization with superantigen-producing Staphylococcus aureus strains in patients with atopic eczema. To this end, Staphylococcus aureus strains from 91 patients with atopic eczema were screened for various staphylococcal superantigens such as SEA, SEB, SEC, SED, TSST1, the recently described enterotoxin gene cluster egc (which encodes the enterotoxins SEG, SEI, SEK, SEM, and SEO), and the see, seh, and sej loci. Swabs were taken from seven different sites in each patient. The rate of colonization with Staphylococcus aureus was 87.9%. Of those patients colonized, 35% were colonized with more than one different strain. Of the 120 genetically different strains investigated, the egc locus was found in 48.3% and the sej locus in 7.5%. The see and seh loci were not found in any strain. The presence of the classical superantigens SEA-SED or TSST1 was found in 38.3%. Overall, 71.3% of the Staphylococcus aureus-positive patients harbored at least one superantigen-producing strain on their skin. There was no difference in the prevalence of superantigens between atopic eczema patients and healthy volunteers. Moreover, there was no difference in the extent of disease expression between patients colonized by superantigen-positive Staphylococcus aureus strains and those with superantigen-negative strains as measured by the SCORAD system. However, patients colonized with Staphylococcus aureus had a significantly higher SCORAD score than those not colonized.

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