Enrichment of the lung microbiome with oral taxa is associated with lung inflammation of a Th17 phenotype

Nat Microbiol. 2016 Apr 4:1:16031. doi: 10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.31.


Microaspiration is a common phenomenon in healthy subjects, but its frequency is increased in chronic inflammatory airway diseases, and its role in inflammatory and immune phenotypes is unclear. We have previously demonstrated that acellular bronchoalveolar lavage samples from half of the healthy people examined are enriched with oral taxa (here called pneumotypeSPT) and this finding is associated with increased numbers of lymphocytes and neutrophils in bronchoalveolar lavage. Here, we have characterized the inflammatory phenotype using a multi-omic approach. By evaluating both upper airway and acellular bronchoalveolar lavage samples from 49 subjects from three cohorts without known pulmonary disease, we observed that pneumotypeSPT was associated with a distinct metabolic profile, enhanced expression of inflammatory cytokines, a pro-inflammatory phenotype characterized by elevated Th-17 lymphocytes and, conversely, a blunted alveolar macrophage TLR4 response. The cellular immune responses observed in the lower airways of humans with pneumotypeSPT indicate a role for the aspiration-derived microbiota in regulating the basal inflammatory status at the pulmonary mucosal surface.

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Microbiota*
  • Pneumonia / microbiology*
  • Pneumonia / pathology*
  • Respiratory Aspiration / complications*
  • Th17 Cells / immunology*

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