A Volatile and Dynamic Longitudinal Microbiome Is Associated With Less Reduction in Lung Function in Adolescents With Cystic Fibrosis

Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2021 Dec 6:11:763121. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2021.763121. eCollection 2021.


Progressive impairment in lung function caused by chronic polymicrobial airway infection remains the major cause of death in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Cross-sectional studies suggest an association between lung function decline and specific lung microbiome ecotypes. However, longitudinal studies on the stability of the airway microbiome are missing for adolescents with CF constituting the age group showing the highest rate of decline in lung function. In this study, we analyzed longitudinal lung function data and sputum samples collected over a period of 3 to 5 years from 12 adolescents with CF. The sputum microbiome was analyzed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Our results indicate that the individual course of the lung microbiome is associated with longitudinal lung function. In our cohort, patients with a dynamic, diverse microbiome showed a slower decline of lung function measured by FEV1% predicted, whereas a more stable and less diverse lung microbiome was related to worse outcomes. Specifically, a higher abundance of the phyla Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes was linked to a better clinical outcome, while Proteobacteria were correlated with a decline in FEV1% predicted. Our study indicates that the stability and diversity of the lung microbiome and the abundance of Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes are associated with the lung function decline and are one of the contributing factors to the disease severity.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa; adolescent; cystic fibrosis; longitudinal study; lung microbiome; volatility analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cystic Fibrosis* / complications
  • Humans
  • Lung
  • Microbiota*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sputum


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S