Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a major source of mortality and morbidity worldwide. The microbiome associated with this disease may be an important component of the disease, though studies to date have been based on sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene, and have revealed unequivocal results. Here, we employed metagenomic sequencing of the upper bronchial tract (UBT) microbiome to allow for greater elucidation of its taxonomic composition, and revealing functional changes associated with the disease. The bacterial metagenomes within sputum samples from eight COPD patients and ten ‘healthy’ smokers (Controls) were sequenced, and suggested significant changes in the abundance of bacterial species, particularly within the Streptococcus genus. The functional capacity of the COPD UBT microbiome indicated an increased capacity for bacterial growth, which could be an important feature in bacterial-associated acute exacerbations. Regression analyses correlated COPD severity (FEV1% of predicted) with differences in the abundance of Streptococcus pneumoniae and functional classifications related to a reduced capacity for bacterial sialic acid metabolism. This study suggests that the COPD UBT microbiome could be used in patient risk stratification and in identifying novel monitoring and treatment methods, but study of a longitudinal cohort will be required to unequivocally relate these features of the microbiome with COPD severity.
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- Metagenomic sequencing of the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease upper bronchial tract microbiome reveals functional changes associated with disease serverity
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