Bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome susceptibility and the pulmonary microbiome

Cody Schott, S Samuel Weigt, Benjamin A Turturice, Ahmed Metwally, John Belperio, Patricia W Finn, David L Perkins
Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation 2018, 37 (9): 1131-1140

BACKGROUND: Lung transplantation outcomes remain complicated by bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome (BOS), a major cause of mortality and retransplantation for patients. A variety of factors linking inflammation and BOS have emerged, meriting further exploration of the microbiome as a source of inflammation. In this analysis, we determined features of the pulmonary microbiome associated with BOS susceptibility.

METHODS: Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) samples were collected from 25 patients during standard of care bronchoscopies before BOS onset. Microbial DNA was isolated from BAL fluid and prepared for metagenomics shotgun sequencing. Patient microbiomes were phenotyped using k-means clustering and compared to determine effects on BOS-free survival.

RESULTS: Clustering identified 3 microbiome phenotypes: Actinobacteria dominant (AD), mixed, and Proteobacteria dominant. AD microbiomes, distinguished by enrichment with Gram-positive organisms, conferred reduced odds and risks for patients to develop acute rejection and BOS compared with non-AD microbiomes. These findings were independent of treatment models. Microbiome findings were correlated with BAL cell counts and polymorphonuclear cell percentages.

CONCLUSIONS: In some populations, features of the microbiome may be used to assess BOS susceptibility. Namely, a Gram-positive enriched pulmonary microbiome may predict resilience to BOS.

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