For the millions of people suffering from the intensely red, horribly itchy skin condition known as eczema, the only thing more maddening than their disease is the lack of understanding of what causes it, or makes it flare up from time to time.
In a paper published online in Nature, the team reports that a toxin produced by the common bacteria Staphylococcus aureus – popularly known as “staph” – causes immune-system cells in the skin to react in a way that produces eczema-like rashes.
The release of the molecule, called delta toxin, by staph bacteria caused immune-related mast cells in the skin to release tiny granules that cause inflammation. But this didn’t occur when skin was exposed to staph strains that lacked the gene for delta toxin.
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