Rationale: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is characterized by early structural lung disease caused by pulmonary infections. The nasopharynx of infants is a major ecological reservoir of potential respiratory pathogens.
Objectives: To investigate the development of nasopharyngeal microbiota profiles in infants with CF compared with those of healthy control subjects during the first 6 months of life.
Methods: We conducted a prospective cohort study, from the time of diagnosis onward, in which we collected questionnaires and 324 nasopharynx samples from 20 infants with CF and 45 age-matched healthy control subjects. Microbiota profiles were characterized by 16S ribosomal RNA-based sequencing.
Measurements and main results: We observed significant differences in microbial community composition (P < 0.0002 by permutational multivariate analysis of variance) and development between groups. In infants with CF, early Staphylococcus aureus and, to a lesser extent, Corynebacterium spp. and Moraxella spp. dominance were followed by a switch to Streptococcus mitis predominance after 3 months of age. In control subjects, Moraxella spp. enrichment occurred throughout the first 6 months of life. In a multivariate analysis, S. aureus, S. mitis, Corynebacterium accolens, and bacilli were significantly more abundant in infants with CF, whereas Moraxella spp., Corynebacterium pseudodiphtericum and Corynebacterium propinquum and Haemophilus influenzae were significantly more abundant in control subjects, after correction for age, antibiotic use, and respiratory symptoms. Antibiotic use was independently associated with increased colonization of gram-negative bacteria such as Burkholderia spp. and members of the Enterobacteriaceae bacteria family and reduced colonization of potential beneficial commensals.
Conclusions: From diagnosis onward, we observed distinct patterns of nasopharyngeal microbiota development in infants with CF under 6 months of age compared with control subjects and a marked effect of antibiotic therapy leading toward a gram-negative microbial composition.
Keywords: cystic fibrosis; healthy controls; longitudinal; microbiota; nasopharynx.