Comparison of Microbiomes from Different Niches of Upper and Lower Airways in Children and Adolescents with Cystic Fibrosis

Sébastien Boutin, Simon Y. Graeber, Michael Weitnauer, Jessica Panitz, Mirjam Stahl, Diana Clausznitzer, Lars Kaderali, Gisli Einarsson, Michael M. Tunney, J. Stuart Elborn, Marcus A. Mall, Alexander H. Dalpke

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Changes in the airway microbiome may be important in the pathophysiology of chronic lung disease in patients with cystic fibrosis. However, little is known about the microbiome in early cystic fibrosis lung disease and the relationship between the microbiomes from different niches in the upper and lower airways. Therefore, in this cross-sectional study, we examined the relationship between the microbiome in the upper (nose and throat) and lower (sputum) airways from children with cystic fibrosis using next generation sequencing. Our results demonstrate a significant difference in both α and β-diversity between the nose and the two other sampling sites. The nasal microbiome was characterized by a polymicrobial community while the throat and sputum communities were less diverse and dominated by a few operational taxonomic units. Moreover, sputum and throat microbiomes were closely related especially in patients with clinically stable lung disease. There was a high inter-individual variability in sputum samples primarily due to a decrease in evenness linked to increased abundance of potential respiratory pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Patients with chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection exhibited a less diverse sputum microbiome. A high concordance was found between pediatric and adult sputum microbiomes except that Burkholderia was only observed in the adult cohort. These results indicate that an adult-like lower airways microbiome is established early in life and that throat swabs may be a good surrogate in clinically stable children with cystic fibrosis without chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in whom sputum sampling is often not feasible.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0116029
Number of pages19
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2015


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