Cystic Fibrosis: Lung Microbial Environments Change With Lung Function Decline

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

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A recent study confirmed that different structure and composition of airway microbiota (symbiotic helpful and harmful microrganisms) exist in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients with stable or declining lung function; and shed new light on the fact that microbiota in stable lungs provides higher resilience to bacteria than lungs in severe function decline.

Future research could reveal how interactions between microbial communities change upon immune response or treatment, and unlock potential development of microbiome-based personalized medicine for diseases like CF.

The study “Pyrosequencing Unveils Cystic Fibrosis Lung Microbiome Differences Associated with a Severe Lung Function Decline,” was published in the journal PLOS One.

The microbial community in CF patients’ airways harbor a vast array of bacterial species not previously identified and suspected to be involved in the disease progression. For the recent study, researchers aimed to characterize extensively the microbial species present in patients’ airways and how they impact disease progression.

Researchers collected sputum samples from CF patients and identified the microbe content by species through sequencing. In order to focus on how the lung composition changes following severe decline, they compared the airway microbiota of CF patients with a substantial decline in lung function to microbiota of patients with stable lung function.

Results showed 22 distinct bacterial genera in CF patients’ airways; mostly Pseudomonas and Staphylococcus. Staphylococcus aureus was more abundant in stable lung function patients than in those whose lung function was already in decline. Notably, researchers identified several members of Prevotella genus, which are considered emerging CF pathogens. The presence of multiple bacterial genomes (denoting the polymicrobial nature of CF infection) was also highlighted by the presence of other minor genera, including members of the Alcaligenaceae and Carnobacteriaceae families.

In conclusion, the results showed a different structure and composition of airway microbiota in CF airways of patients with stable and declining lung function. These differences suggest that the microbiota of stable lungs carry higher resilience, when compared to severe lung function decline patients – which impacts the aggressiveness of pathogens such as Pseudomonas.


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