Selective Bacterial Colonization of the Murine Larynx in a Gnotobiotic Model

Front Microbiol. 2020 Nov 4:11:594617. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2020.594617. eCollection 2020.


The larynx is a mucosal organ situated between the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. Little is known about microbial contributions to laryngeal epithelial health and pathogenesis. Developing a gnotobiotic laryngeal model will introduce new avenues for targeted explorations of microbes in laryngeal mucosal biology, allowing for enhanced understanding of host-microbe interaction in the upper airway. In this study, we first assessed the potential of using gut microbiota as a source to establish laryngeal microbiota in germ-free mice. Results demonstrated the selective nature of the upper airway and provided evidence that gut bacteria can assemble into communities that resemble the commensal resident bacteria occurring in the larynx of conventionally-raised animals phylogenetically and functionally. Then, we confirmed the reproducibility of laryngeal colonization through comparison of laryngeal microbiota in the larynx along with neighboring regions (base of tongue, esophagus, and trachea) between conventionally-raised and germ-free mice that conventionalized with cecal microbiota. Despite taxonomic differences, the established laryngeal microbiota from cecal content exhibited similarity to commensal resident microbiota in diversity within/between communities and predicted metagenomic functions. Our data also suggests little difference in bacterial distribution across the larynx and its surrounding regions and that cell motility and the ability to degrade xenobiotics is critical for bacteria colonizing upper airway. Successful colonization of laryngeal and oropharyngeal regions with gut microbiota in our study will greatly facilitate the investigation of potential localized inflammatory responses within host tissues that contribute to the disorders of essential laryngeal functions. Utilizing said gnotobiotic model to conduct future studies will allow for novel insights into direct microbial contributions to laryngeal epithelial health and pathogenesis.

Keywords: colonization; gnotobiotic; laryngeal mucosa; microbiota; upper airway.