The microbiome and the lung

Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2014 Aug;11 Suppl 4(Suppl 4):S227-32. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201402-052PL.


Investigation of the human microbiome has become an important field of research facilitated by advances in sequencing technologies. The lung, which is one of the latest body sites being explored for the characterization of human-associated microbial communities, has a microbiome that is suspected to play a substantial role in health and disease. In this review, we provide an overview of the basics of microbiome studies. Challenges in the study of the lung microbiome are highlighted, and further attention is called to the optimization and standardization of methodologies to explore the role of the lung microbiome in health and disease. We also provide examples of lung microbial communities associated with disease or infection status and discuss the role of fungal species in the lung. Finally, we review studies demonstrating that the environmental microbiome can influence lung health and disease, such as the finding that the diversity of microbial exposure correlates inversely with the development of childhood asthma.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS; asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; lung; microbiome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lung / microbiology*
  • Lung Diseases / microbiology*
  • Microbiota*