Development of the cutaneous microbiome in the preterm infant: A prospective longitudinal study

Mohan Pammi, Jacqueline L. O'Brien, Nadim J. Ajami, Matthew C. Wong, James Versalovic, Joseph F. Petrosino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Neonatal sepsis in preterm infants is often due to organisms that colonize the skin including Staphylococcus spp. and Candida spp. Development and maturation of the skin microbiome in the neonatal period, especially in preterm infants, may be critical in preventing colonization with pathogens and subsequent progression to neonatal sepsis. Development of the skin microbiome in preterm infants or its determinants in the first 4 weeks of life has not been evaluated. Methods: We evaluated the skin microbiome from three body sites, antecubital fossa, forehead and gluteal region, in a prospective cohort of 15 preterm (birth weight < 1500 g and < 32 weeks of gestation) and 15 term neonates. The microbiome community membership and relative abundance were evaluated by amplification and sequencing the bacterial V3-V5 region of the16S rRNA gene on the 454 GS FLX platform. We used linear mixed effects models to analyze longitudinal data. Results: The structure and composition of the skin microbiome did not differ between the three sampling sites for term and preterm infants in the neonatal period. However, skin bacterial richness was positively associated with gestational age in the first four weeks of life. Intravenous antibiotics negatively impacted the bacterial diversity of the skin but we did not see differences with respect to feeding or mode of delivery. Conclusions: Gestational age, which influences the maturity of skin structure and function, is associated with the development of the preterm cutaneous microbiome. Understanding the maturation of a healthy skin microbiome, prevention of pathogen colonization and its role in the development of immunity will be pivotal in the development of novel interventions to prevent infections in critically ill preterm infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0176669
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Development of the cutaneous microbiome in the preterm infant: A prospective longitudinal study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this