Antibiotics Drive Microbial Imbalance and Vitiligo Development in Mice

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Journal of Investigative Dermatology


Vitiligo is impacted by environmental triggers. We studied the contribution of the microbiome in FH mice, in which depigmentation is mediated by tyrosinase-reactive T cells. The mice received oral antibiotics and were monitored for depigmentation. The microbiome was studied in fecal and skin samples using 16S rRNA analysis. The resulting T-cell distributions were evaluated. In untreated mice, pigment loss did not expand to the pelage, whereas mice in the ampicillin group were approximately 1/3 depigmented at 30 weeks. In contrast to models of autoimmunity that are less dependent on IFN-γ, ampicillin but not neomycin treatment correlated with accelerated disease and reduced bacteria in the fecal pellets. Modified cytokine patterns in the tissue and serum suggest a response that transcends the gut. Ampicillin-induced depigmentation was accompanied by gut but not skin dysbiosis, and reduced T cell numbers in both sites. Neomycin induced a redistribution of gut T cells and an accumulation of skin regulatory T cells. This treatment spurred a Bacteroides-dominated population of fecal bacteria. Reduced diversity is prominent particularly after ampicillin treatment, when the gut is dominated by Pseudomonas species. In line with current concepts relating the microbiome and the immune system, we predict that dietary measures might promote skin health and delay vitiligo onset.

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