The airway microbiota of neonates colonized with asthma-associated pathogenic bacteria

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Culture techniques have associated colonization with pathogenic bacteria in the airways of neonates with later risk of childhood asthma, whereas more recent studies utilizing sequencing techniques have shown the same phenomenon with specific anaerobic taxa. Here, we analyze nasopharyngeal swabs from 1 month neonates in the COPSAC2000 prospective birth cohort by 16S rRNA gene sequencing of the V3-V4 region in relation to asthma risk throughout childhood. Results are compared with previous culture results from hypopharyngeal aspirates from the same cohort and with hypopharyngeal sequencing data from the later COPSAC2010 cohort. Nasopharyngeal relative abundance values of Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis are associated with the same species in the hypopharyngeal cultures. A combined pathogen score of these bacteria’s abundance values is associated with persistent wheeze/asthma by age 7. No other taxa are associated. Compared to the hypopharyngeal aspirates from the COPSAC2010 cohort, the anaerobes Veillonella and Prevotella, which have previously been implicated in asthma development, are less commonly detected in the COPSAC2000 nasopharyngeal samples, but correlate with the pathogen score, hinting at latent community structures that bridge current and previous results. These findings have implications for future asthma prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6668
JournalNature Communications
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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