Lung microbiota associations with clinical features of COPD in the SPIROMICS cohort

NPJ Biofilms Microbiomes. 2021 Feb 5;7(1):14. doi: 10.1038/s41522-021-00185-9.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is heterogeneous in development, progression, and phenotypes. Little is known about the lung microbiome, sampled by bronchoscopy, in milder COPD and its relationships to clinical features that reflect disease heterogeneity (lung function, symptom burden, and functional impairment). Using bronchoalveolar lavage fluid collected from 181 never-smokers and ever-smokers with or without COPD (GOLD 0-2) enrolled in the SubPopulations and InteRmediate Outcome Measures In COPD Study (SPIROMICS), we find that lung bacterial composition associates with several clinical features, in particular bronchodilator responsiveness, peak expiratory flow rate, and forced expiratory flow rate between 25 and 75% of FVC (FEF25-75). Measures of symptom burden (COPD Assessment Test) and functional impairment (six-minute walk distance) also associate with disparate lung microbiota composition. Drivers of these relationships include members of the Streptococcus, Prevotella, Veillonella, Staphylococcus, and Pseudomonas genera. Thus, lung microbiota differences may contribute to airway dysfunction and airway disease in milder COPD.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / microbiology
  • Female
  • Forced Expiratory Volume
  • Humans
  • Lung / microbiology*
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / microbiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA / methods*
  • Spirometry


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S