Nasopharyngeal Microbiota, Host Transcriptome, and Disease Severity in Children with Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection. (Stulce)

de Steenhuijsen Piters WA, et al. Nasopharyngeal Microbiota, Host Transcriptome, and Disease Severity in Children with Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2016 Nov 1;194(9):1104-1115.

RATIONALE: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of acute lower respiratory tract infections and hospitalizations in infants worldwide. Known risk factors, however, incompletely explain the variability of RSV disease severity, especially among healthy children. We postulate that the severity of RSV infection is influenced by modulation of the host immune response by the local bacterial ecosystem.

OBJECTIVES: To assess whether specific nasopharyngeal microbiota (clusters) are associated with distinct host transcriptome profiles and disease severity in children less than 2 years of age with RSV infection.

METHODS: We characterized the nasopharyngeal microbiota profiles of young children with mild and severe RSV disease and healthy children by 16S-rRNA sequencing. In parallel, using multivariable models, we analyzed whole-blood transcriptome profiles to study the relationship between microbial community composition, the RSV-induced host transcriptional response, and clinical disease severity.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: We identified five nasopharyngeal microbiota clusters characterized by enrichment of either Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus, Corynebacterium, Moraxella, or Staphylococcus aureus. RSV infection and RSV hospitalization were positively associated with H. influenzae and Streptococcus and negatively associated with S. aureus abundance, independent of age. Children with RSV showed overexpression of IFN-related genes, independent of the microbiota cluster. In addition, transcriptome profiles of children with RSV infection and H. influenzae- and Streptococcus-dominated microbiota were characterized by greater overexpression of genes linked to Toll-like receptor and by neutrophil and macrophage activation and signaling.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that interactions between RSV and nasopharyngeal microbiota might modulate the host immune response, potentially affecting clinical disease severity.

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