COPD: What role will the microbiome play?

COPD: What role will the microbiome play?
In this Particular Feature, we inspect the growing links between your lung microbiome and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD refers to several conditions, which cause problems breathing; among them are emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

In the USA, COPD is a relatively common issue, affecting an estimated 1 in 8 persons over the age of 45.

Symptoms of COPD tend to worsen over time. Inhalers, medications, and changes in lifestyle can ease symptoms significantly, but there happens to be no cure.

Although experts know that COPD most commonly results from smoking cigarettes, researchers remain exploring the alterations that occur on the lungs - plus some are focusing on the potential purpose of bacteria.

An environment of bacteria
Although we often utilize the expression “microbiome” to make reference to the bacteria inside our guts, the word encompasses all of the microorganisms that are in us and on us.

The gut hosts the major population of bacteria, but microorganisms abound through the entire body, including in the lungs.

The science of the microbiome continues to be in its infancy; it investigates an incredibly complex relationship which has designed over evolutionary time. Our anatomies and our environment affect the bacteria within us, and, in turn, bacteria influence your body that they inhabit.

Also, technological difficulties possess inhibited our exploration of the microbiome’s influences. Just with the recent introduction of next‐technology sequencing technology possess we had the opportunity to take a precise snapshot of confirmed population of bacteria.

Because of this, we are only starting to tease out the associations between our microbial site visitors and our physiology in health insurance and disease.

The lung microbiome
Until fairly recently, scientists believed that the lungs were sterile - quite simply, microbe-no cost. This assumption was based on studies using normal culture techniques. These procedures do not provide a full picture, though.

As you paper explains, we have now know “that less [than] 1% of bacteria collected from soil that have emerged under the microscope form colonies on lifestyle, and only 50% of bacteria sampled from individual sites […] are recovered by traditional culture techniques.”

Among the earliest analyses to characterize the lung microbiome in health insurance and disease appeared found in PLOS ONE this year 2010. The study compared bacterial populations in the lungs of three groups of adults: persons with COPD, people with asthma, and healthy persons.

The team took samples from three spots in each participant: the nasal cavity, the oropharynx - the middle area of the throat behind the mouth area, and the low airways.

The researchers found that across all three groups, the abundance of microbiota was similar. This overturned the familiar notion of a microbe-no cost airway. But to the authors, this was no surprise. They write:

“Microbiota are actually ubiquitous even found in the most hostile environments, and it will be extraordinary if the lower airway [was] in a position to maintain sterility found in the occurrence of high-quantity airflow through a damp open interaction with the oropharynx.”

Despite similar degrees of bacteria through the entire three experimental organizations, the scientists did identify significant differences among the populations.

Specifically, the groups with lung disease had drastically more Proteobacteria, a significant phylum that includes several pathogenic genera, such as Haemophilus, Moraxella, and Neisseria.

However, this study only included data from a small number of individuals and, although the authors note a strong correlation, they cannot “establish causality between the presence of pathogens and airways disease.”

Another concern was that the researchers did not make sure that bacteria from the higher airways didn't get carried down into the lower airways during sampling.

Later research that addressed this matter discovered that the bacterial populations of the lungs were a lot more sparse. They also found that the higher and lower airways had been home to the same species of bacteria. As the researchers behind one 2011 research write:

“The healthy lung does not contain a consistent, distinctive microbiome but instead contains low levels of bacterial sequences generally indistinguishable from upper respiratory flora.”

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