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Exp Dermatol. 2015 Oct;24(10):727-31. doi: 10.1111/exd.12793. Epub 2015 Aug 21.

The bacteriology of hidradenitis suppurativa: a systematic review.

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Department of Dermatology, Roskilde Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Roskilde, Denmark.
Department of Science, Systems and Models, Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark.
Department of bacteriology, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Hidradenitis suppurativa (HS) is a chronic inflammatory disabling skin disease consisting of recurrent nodules, sinuses, fistulas and scarring involving the intertriginous regions. HS is often a therapeutic challenge and most treatments are off-label. A better understanding of aetiology and pathogenesis of HS may facilitate the development of effective treatment. Although the clinical presentation is strongly reminiscent of bacterial infection, the role of bacteria remains controversial. Studies have isolated an array of different bacteria specimens. Consistent findings of Gram-positive cocci and Gram-positive rods including Staphylococus aureus, coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS) and Corynebacterium species in deep tissue samples have been demonstrated in HS and may constitute a central target for the immune system. Efficacy of antibiotics, that is rifampicin, clindamycin or tetracycline, supports a microbial role in disease pathogenesis. However, these antibiotics also work as immunomodulators of especially T cells, and the underlying mechanisms may therefore be more complex. We performed a systematic review of previous studies investigating the bacterial flora in hidradenitis suppurativa. We searched PubMed, EMBASE, Royal Danish Library and Cochrane library (search date 11 December 2014). A total of 66 papers were identified and nine papers published between 1988 and 2014 matched our inclusion criteria, yielding bacteriological data of a total of 324 patients with HS (mean age 36.8 years and female/male ratio 215/109). This overview of the bacteriology may aid researchers and physicians exploring the potential role of bacteria in HS. Furthermore, to stimulate a broader debate, we also present different viewpoints on the possible role of bacteria in HS.


bacteria; hidradenitis suppurativa; microbiology

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