Påhlman LI, Manoharan L, Aspelund AS
Respir. Res. 22 (1) 118 [2021-04-23; online 2021-04-23]
Lung transplant (LTx) recipients are at increased risk for airway infections, but the cause of infection is often difficult to establish with traditional culture-based techniques. The objectives of the study was to compare the airway microbiome in LTx patients with and without ongoing airway infection and identify differences in their microbiome composition. LTx recipients were prospectively followed with bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) during the first year after transplantation. The likelihood of airway infection at the time of sampling was graded based on clinical criteria and BAL cultures, and BAL fluid levels of the inflammatory markers heparin-binding protein (HBP), IL-1β and IL-8 were determined with ELISA. The bacterial microbiome of the samples were analysed with 16S rDNA sequencing and characterized based on richness and evenness. The distance in microbiome composition between samples were determined using Bray-Curtis and weighted and unweighted UniFrac. A total of 46 samples from 22 patients were included in the study. Samples collected during infection and samples with high levels of inflammation were characterized by loss of bacterial diversity and a significantly different species composition. Burkholderia, Corynebacterium and Staphylococcus were enriched during infection and inflammation, whereas anaerobes and normal oropharyngeal flora were less abundant. The most common findings in BAL cultures, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, were not enriched during infection. This study gives important insights into the dynamics of the airway microbiome of LTx recipients, and suggests that lung infections are associated with a disruption in the homeostasis of the microbiome.