Airway microbiome is associated with respiratory functions and responses to ambient particulate matter exposure.


Department of Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


BACKGROUND : Ambient particulate matter (PM) exposure has been associated with respiratory function decline in epidemiological studies. We hypothesize that a possible underlying mechanism is the perturbation of airway microbiome by PM exposure.
METHODS : During October 2016-October 2017, on two human cohorts (n = 115 in total) in Shanghai China, we systematically collected three categories of data: (1) respiratory functions, (2) airway microbiome from sputum, and (3) PM2.5 (PM of ≤ 2.5 µm in diameter) level in ambient air. We investigated the impact of PM2.5 on airway microbiome as well as the link between airway microbiome and respiratory functions using linear mixed regression models.
RESULTS : The respiratory function of our primary interest includes forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in 1st second (FEV1). FEV1/FVC, an important respiratory function trait and key diagnosis criterion of COPD, was significantly associated with airway bacteria load (p = 0.0038); and FEV1 was associated with airway microbiome profile (p = 0.013). Further, airway microbiome was significantly influenced by PM2.5 exposure (p = 4.48E-11).
CONCLUSIONS : To our knowledge, for the first time, we demonstrated the impact of PM2.5 on airway microbiome, and reported the link between airway microbiome and respiratory functions. The results expand our understanding on the scope of PM2.5 exposure's influence on human respiratory system, and point to novel etiological mechanism of PM2.5 exposure induced diseases.


Airway microbiome,Ambient particulate matter (PM) exposure,Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),Next generation sequencing,Respiratory functions,