Nasopharyngeal Microbiome Analyses in Otitis-Prone and Otitis-Free Children



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International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology


Objectives: About 10-15% children develop frequent acute otitis media (AOM) confirmed by tympanocentesis. These children are designated sOP (stringently defined otitis-prone) because all AOM episodes have been microbiologically confirmed. The cause of otitis-proneness in sOP children is multi-factorial, including frequent otopathogen nasopharyngeal (NP) colonization and deficiency in innate and adaptive immune responses. A largely unexplored contributor to otitis proneness is NP microbiome composition. Since the microbiome modulates otopathogen NP colonization and immune responses, we hypothesized that the NP microbiome composition in sOP children might be dysregulated.

Methods: We performed 16S rRNA sequencing to analyze microbiome composition in 157 NP samples from 28 sOP and 68 AOM-free children when they were 6 months or 12 months old and healthy. Bioinformatic approaches were employed to examine the composition difference between the two populations and its correlation with changes in levels of inflammatory cytokines.

Results: A different global microbiome profile and reduced alpha diversity was observed in the NP microbiome of sOP children when 6 months old, compared with that from AOM-free children of the same age. This difference was resolved when groups were compared at 12 months old. We found 4 bacterial genera-Bacillus, Veillonella, Gemella, and Prevotella-correlated with higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the NP. Those 4 bacterial genera were in lower abundance in sOP compared to AOM-free children.

Conclusion: Dysbiosis occurs in the NP microbiome of sOP children at an early age even when they were healthy. This dysbiosis correlates with a lower inflammatory state in the NP of these children.



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