Composition of microbes in the lower airways is different for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

A new study from the University of Bergen shows that patients with Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) have a different composition of microbes in the lower airways than healthy controls and patients with Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic, severe and rare pulmonary disease with an increased prevalence the last decades. The cause of IPF is unknown. It is progressive, with a poor prognosis, and new treatments are urgently needed.

It was long assumed that the lower airways were sterile, but it has now been established that the airways have their own "microbiome". This is a collective term for the microbes that are always present in the airways.

It was surprising that IPF differed so much from the results from COPD and healthy patients. These results mean that we now have greater knowledge of the microbiome in IPF patients."

Kristel Knudsen, Researcher, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen

The flora of the oral cavity is one of the sources of the microbiome in the lower airways. For IPF, there was a greater similarity between the microbiome in the oral cavity and in the lower airways compared with COPD and healthy controls. This may indicate that micro aspiration is one of the causes of the «disturbed» microbiome seen in IPF, as the study shows.

-The unique thing about our study is that we have measured both the oral cavity and the lower airways at the same time in the same patients. So now we can more safely say that the connection is quite strong, which this study shows together with several other studies in our research group, Knudsen emphasizes.

The research-team has already follow-up studies and are now working with whole genome sequencing (WGS) of these samples.

Source:
Journal reference:

Knudsen, K.S., et al. (2022) The lower airways microbiome and antimicrobial peptides in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis differ from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. PLOS ONE. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0262082.

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