Rationale: Microbiome studies typically focus on bacteria, but fungal species are common in many body sites and can have profound effects on the host. Wide gaps exist in the understanding of the fungal microbiome (mycobiome) and its relationship to lung disease.
Objectives: To characterize the mycobiome at different respiratory tract levels in persons with and without HIV infection and in HIV-infected individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Methods: Oral washes (OW), induced sputa (IS), and bronchoalveolar lavages (BAL) were collected from 56 participants. We performed 18S and internal transcribed spacer sequencing and used the neutral model to identify fungal species that are likely residents of the lung. We used ubiquity-ubiquity plots, random forest, logistic regression, and metastats to compare fungal communities by HIV status and presence of COPD.
Measurements and main results: Mycobiomes of OW, IS, and BAL shared common organisms, but each also had distinct members. Candida was dominant in OW and IS, but BAL had 39 fungal species that were disproportionately more abundant than in the OW. Fungal communities in BAL differed significantly by HIV status and by COPD, with Pneumocystis jirovecii significantly overrepresented in both groups. Other fungal species were also identified as differing in HIV and COPD.
Conclusions: This study systematically examined the respiratory tract mycobiome in a relatively large group. By identifying Pneumocystis and other fungal species as overrepresented in the lung in HIV and in COPD, it is the first to determine alterations in fungal communities associated with lung dysfunction and/or HIV, highlighting the clinical relevance of these findings. Clinical trial registered with www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT00870857).
Keywords: COPD; HIV; bronchoalveolar lavage; fungi; microbiome.