The following article features coverage from the American Society of Hematology 2019 Annual Meeting. Click here to read more of Oncology Nurse Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Researchers detected a correlation between cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) and the presence of Staphylococcus aureus in patients’ skin flora. Additionally, the investigators found evidence of a possible causal relationship between S aureus and CTCL progression in a mouse model. These results were presented at the 61st American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting & Exposition, held in Orlando, Florida.1

To assess a relationship between CTCL and S aureus, the researchers performed skin swabs of lesions, nares, and nonlesional skin in patients with CTCL. For controls, the researchers took skin swabs from healthy donors and patients with psoriasis. Skin swabs were used to culture S aureus and for DNA sequencing analysis.

Culture analysis indicated that more than 65% of patients with advanced-stage CTCL had S aureus in lesions/tumor areas. Controls, in contrast, only rarely showed colonization by S aureus in comparable areas. Furthermore, for patients with CTCL, disease stage appeared to correspond with rates of S aureus colonization.

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Sequencing analysis showed that the skin of patients with CTCL harbored less biodiversity overall than did skin samples from controls, and that S aureus was relatively more prevalent in skin samples from patients with CTCL.

The researchers used a mouse model to explore causality between skin flora and CTCL progression. The mutated mice they used were prone to a phenotype similar to that of human CTCL. The mice were observed for disease progression while housed in either germ-free or specific-pathogen-free environments.

After 11 months, unlike specific-pathogen-free mice, the germ-free mice showed only limited evidence of disease. Additionally, when germ-free mice were moved to a specific-pathogen-free environment, they began to show advanced disease. A separate mouse model used in this study produced evidence of a role for T-cell antigen receptor signaling in development of a CTCL phenotype.

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According to the researchers, this study’s results demonstrated that CTCL progression was correlated with S aureus colonization and that results with mouse models imply a possible causal relationship between skin flora and CTCL development.

Disclosure: Multiple authors declared affiliations with industry. Please refer to the original abstract for a full list of disclosures.


Tegla CA, Herrera AM, Seffens AM, et al. Skin associated Staphylococcus aureus contributes to disease progression in CTCL. Oral presentation at: 61st ASH Annual Meeting & Exposition; December 7-10, 2019; Orlando, FL; Abstract 659.