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Green office walls have a positive impact on skin microbiota and strengthen immune regulation

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A recent study shows that plant walls installed inside offices diversify the skin microbiota of employees which provide protection against autoimmune diseases. The photo shows researcher Marja Roslund. 1 credit

An experimental study conducted by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) showed that air-flowing plant walls installed inside offices altered the microbiota affecting employees’ skin health and enhanced immune system regulation. The effects could already be observed for a month.

It is estimated that one in five people living in developed countries suffer from autoimmune disorders, such as allergies, atopy, type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease. The costs incurred for society are estimated at more than one hundred billion euros per year.

A recent study shows that plant walls installed inside offices diversify the skin microbiota of employees which provide protection against autoimmune diseases. “Based on our findings, green walls offer ideal solutions in workplaces and other indoor spaces to balance people’s regular microbiota. Although it is often necessary to treat autoimmune disorders medically, it would be important to strengthen the prevention of these disorders and to alleviate the symptoms by contact with nature.This is the first study in which the addition of plants indoors is found to be linked not only to the microbiota, but also to immune regulation,” says Laura Soininen, PhD student at the University of Helsinki, commenting on the study. Scientific reports.

Green walls at the service of health

In the study, volunteer employees were randomly divided into two groups, one of which received a water-flowing green wall in its room and the other acted as a control group with no green wall installed. The green walls were installed in conventional office buildings and a hospital area. The green walls were built by Finnish group Naava Group Oy and included heart-leaved philodendron (Philodendron scandens), dragon tree (Dracaena sp.) and bird’s nest fern (Asplenium antiquum).

Already in two weeks, an increase in the relative abundance of lactobacilli was identified on the skin of employees whose offices had installed plant walls. In previous studies, skin lactobacilli have been shown to prevent pathogens and skin infections. For one month, an increase in the diversity of gammaproteobacteria was identified in employees working in offices with green walls compared to the control group. Various gammaproteobacteria present on the skin have been associated with a decrease in the concentration of the cytokine IL-17A which contributes to inflammation. In Luke’s previous greening study of outdoor daycare spaces, gammaproteobacteria were linked to effective immune regulation in children.

In the study, the level of the cytokine TGF-β1, linked to effective immune regulation, increased in the blood of those who worked in rooms with installed green walls for a month compared to the control group. Changes in blood cytokine concentrations were identified in employees who worked in the office buildings participating in the study.

Solutions are needed to maintain contact with nature

Nature’s various microbes help the immune system to develop and function normally. In urban societies, people have less contact with nature, which is why we need innovative nature-based solutions to maintain contact with nature and reduce autoimmune diseases. “The results indicate that we can support people’s health with relatively simple nature-based solutions. However, urban societies need, in addition to these types of solutions, broader societal changes to maintain and increase healthy contact. and helpful with nature,” says Marja Roslund. , researcher at Luke. “These results encourage us to pursue this issue further.”


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More information:
L. Soininen et al, The indoor green wall affects commensal skin microbiota associated with health and improves immune regulation: a randomized trial among urban office workers, Scientific reports (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-10432-4

Provided by Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

Quote: Green walls in offices positively impact skin microbiota and improve immune regulation (2022, May 3) Retrieved May 3, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-05-green-walls- offices-positive-impact.html

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