Medical Microbiology and Immunology

, Volume 207, Issue 2, pp 83–94 | Cite as

The microbiology and treatment of human mastitis

  • Angeliki Angelopoulou
  • Des Field
  • C. Anthony Ryan
  • Catherine Stanton
  • Colin Hill
  • R. Paul Ross


Mastitis, which is generally described as an inflammation of breast tissue, is a common and debilitating disease which frequently results in the cessation of exclusive breastfeeding and affects up to 33% of lactating women. The condition is a primary cause of decreased milk production and results in organoleptic and nutritional alterations in milk quality. Recent studies employing culture-independent techniques, including metagenomic sequencing, have revealed a loss of bacterial diversity in the microbiome of mastitic milk samples compared to healthy milk samples. In those infected, the pathogens Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis and members of corynebacteria have been identified as the predominant etiological agents in acute, subacute and granulomatous mastitis, respectively. The increased incidence of antibiotic resistance in the causative species is also a key cause of concern for treatment of the disease, thus leading to the need to develop novel therapies. In this respect, probiotics and bacteriocins have revealed potential as alternative treatments.


Human mastitis Microbiota Antibiotics Probiotics Bacteriocins 



This work was funded by APC Microbiome Ireland, a Centre for Science and Technology (CSET) funded by the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), grant number SFI/12/RC/2273, Toddlerfood (14/F/821) and Infamilk (15/F/721) projects funded through the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM).

Author contributions

AA drafted the manuscript. DF, AR, CS, CH and PR revised and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.APC Microbiome IrelandUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  2. 2.School of MicrobiologyUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  3. 3.Department of NeonatologyCork University Maternity HospitalCorkIreland
  4. 4.Food BiosciencesTeagasc Food Research CentreFermoyIreland

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