Malassezia Yeasts’ Problemmatic Feasts


Malassezia yeastsWherever you look, they’re there: Malassezia yeasts. The lipid-dependent fungi are lurking, colonizing the skin on people, warm-blooded animals—as far afield as the recesses of the ocean, in deep-sea vents—and in places far and wide in between.

In our skin, the Malassezia disintegrates the fats and uses them for fuel. Researchers examine the possibility that harmful reactions can occur as the yeasts metabolize the skin surface fat, possibly being implicated in the development of skin cancer.

A recent article byscientist Teun Boekhout, PhD, CBS-KNAW Fungal Biodiversity Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands, and colleagues from Greece and Italy looks into diseases caused by the fungi, with dandruff and atopic eczema, being the most typical. Keep in mind that Malassezia yeasts are essential constituents of the skin microbiota, and therefore the treatments should hinge on controlling the Malassezia population rather than eradicating it, they say.

Though less commonplace, Malassezia bloodstream infections can pose a risk for premature infants and immunocompromised patients who spend an extended time in intensive care. The researchers note that patients may be in peril if the diagnosis is delayed, which can happen when routine blood tests in patients who have blood infections of unknown origin fail to detect this source immediately. Once detected, treatment with antifungal drugs is generally effective in eradicating the pathogen.

Malassezia remains somewhat mysterious, asthe yeasts cannot easily be isolated and grown in the lab, and strains populate diverse realms with varied energy sources.

The article, in the journal PLOS/Pathogens, is found here:

Image: Malassezia yeasts

Malassezia yeasts may promote skin cancer similarly to UV light. [Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece CC-BY]
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