Presence of Malassezia Hyphae Is Correlated with Pathogenesis of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Juanjuan Li, Yahui Feng, Chen Liu, Zhiya Yang, Sybren de Hoog, Yuying Qu, Biao Chen, Dongmei Li, Huabao Xiong, Dongmei Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Seborrheic dermatitis (SD) is a common, chronic, and relapsing skin disease. The roles of Malassezia spp. in the pathogenesis of SD are still not clear due to the lack of direct evidence for the existence of hyphae within affected skin tissues. We set out to elucidate if Malassezia mycelium contributes to the onset and development of SD and if Malassezia mycelium is correlated with the clinical severity of SD patients. We detected Malassezia hyphae in patients with SD using potassium hydroxide (KOH) and calcofluor white (CFW) staining. Fluorescent microscopy was performed for the analysis of fungal cell wall and morphological characteristics of Malassezia under CFW staining. Culture growth in modified Dixon agar was used for DNA extraction and sequencing, and Malassezia species were confirmed by a sequencing data BLAST search against the NCBI database. We demonstrated that Malassezia hyphae were positively correlated with the clinical severity of SD patients (P = 3.1738 × 10211). All the patients responded well to antifungal treatment. There is no significant difference for species dominance across the variant groups. However, the exact molecular mechanisms of how Malassezia spp. affect SD need to be further explored. The results show that Malassezia spp. in the hyphal stage are restricted to SD patients compared with healthy controls, suggesting that the presence of Malassezia hyphae contributes to the pathogenesis of SD. The results highlight the importance of the antifungal therapy for the future treatment of SD patients. IMPORTANCE Our results support the proposal that the hyphal form of Malassezia could be one of the pathogenic factors that contribute to SD, which has been previously less well studied. This clinical observation paves the way for further investigations of the molecular mechanisms of Malassezia hyphal pathogenicity in SD.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01169-21
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Dandruff
  • Hyphae
  • Malassezia spp
  • Seborrheic dermatitis


Dive into the research topics of 'Presence of Malassezia Hyphae Is Correlated with Pathogenesis of Seborrheic Dermatitis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this