Molecular Identification of Malassezia Species Isolated from Neonates Hospitalized in Neonatal Intensive Care Units and Their Mothers

Document Type : Original Articles


1 Department of Medical Mycology and Parasitology, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

2 Basic Sciences in Infectious Diseases Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

3 Department of Medical Parasitology and Mycology, School of Medicine, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

4 Neonatal Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran


Background and Purpose: Considering the importance of Malassezia species to cause skin diseases and other associated infections in neonates, this  study aimed to investigate the presence and frequency of Malassezia species in the skin of neonates hospitalized in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and their mothers using culture and accurate molecular-based methods.
Materials and Methods: A total of 205 samples were collected from 130 neonates (>4 - day- old) and 75 mothers. Isolation of Malassezia species from the skin was performed using Leeming-Notman agar and modified Dixon agar media. In order to compare the Malassezia microflora on the skin of the neonates and their mothers, we performed a PCR-sequencing method for species identification of 92 isolates from neonates and their mothers. Possible associated risk factors for the colonization of Malassezia species on the skin were recorded.
Results: Cultures from 62.3% of neonates and 77.3% of mothers were positive for Malassezia species growth. Malassezia globosa was the most common isolated species from the skin of the study population. Interestingly, a rare Malassezia species, M. arunalokei, was isolated from one neonate’s skin. There was a 76% similarity between the mother-neonate isolate sequences results. The statistical analysis showed that the type of feeding is a significant (p< 0.001) associated factor for Malassezia skin colonization.
Conclusions: Our findings support the hypothesis that the colonization of Malassezia in neonates is significantly influenced by that of the mother, and this may be associated with breast feedings.