Topical antibiotics limit depigmentation in a mouse model of vitiligo

Ahmed Ahmed Touni, Rachel Sohn, Cormac Cosgrove, Rohan S. Shivde, Emilia R. Dellacecca, Rasha T.A. Abdel-Aziz, Kettil Cedercreutz, Stefan J. Green, Hossam Abdel-Wahab, I. Caroline Le Poole*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oral neomycin administration impacts the gut microbiome and delays vitiligo development in mice, and topical antibiotics may likewise allow the microbiome to preserve skin health and delay depigmentation. Here, we examined the effects of 6-week topical antibiotic treatment on vitiligo-prone pmel-1 mice. Bacitracin, Neosporin, or Vaseline were applied to one denuded flank, while the contralateral flank was treated with Vaseline in all mice. Ventral depigmentation was quantified weekly. We found that topical Neosporin treatment significantly reduced depigmentation and exhibited effects beyond the treated area, while Bacitracin ointment had no effect. Stool samples collected from four representative mice/group during treatment revealed that Neosporin treatment aligned with reduced abundance of the Alistipes genus in the gut, while relevant changes to the skin microbiome at end point were less apparent. Either antibiotic treatment led to reduced expression of MR1, potentially limiting mucosal-associated invariant T-cell activation, while Neosporin-treated skin selectively revealed significantly reduced CD8+ T-cell abundance. The latter finding aligned with reduced expression of multiple inflammatory markers and markedly increased regulatory T-cell density. Our studies on favorable skin and oral antibiotic treatment share the neomycin compound, and in either case, microbial changes were most apparent in stool samples. Taken together, neomycin-containing antibiotic applications can mediate skin Treg infiltration to limit vitiligo development. Our study highlights the therapeutic potential of short-term antibiotic applications to limit depigmentation vitiligo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPigment Cell and Melanoma Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • T-cell subsets
  • antibiotics
  • depigmentation
  • microbiome
  • vitiligo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Topical antibiotics limit depigmentation in a mouse model of vitiligo'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this