No, this is not a Jackson Pollock painting, it’s an image of skin showing the immune cells associated with it. Bacteria growing on skin seem to properly shape the responses of those cells, and thus the skin’s immunity, a study finds. (Lily Koo, Juraj Kabat / Biological Imaging Facility, RTB, NIAID / July 26, 2012)
Squeaky clean mice show that skin bacteria help shape immunity
The psychedelic image above is a super-close-up view of the skin — and the brightly colored blobs are immune cells. What’s it about? Read on.
Evidence is mounting that the bacteria that live on our bodies affect our health, for good or ill. It’s a hot area of research, much of it centered on the gut — and no wonder, for this is the spot where the richest bacterial communities are found. The bugs that dwell there seem to help our immune systems develop along the right lines, among other things. (They can also contribute to disease.)
Compared with the gut, the skin is a sparse Sargasso Sea when it comes to microbial numbers, though it still houses plenty of bacteria. These populations are less studied than the gut.