Aspirated bile: a major host trigger modulating respiratory pathogen colonisation in cystic fibrosis patients
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Chronic respiratory infections are a leading global cause of morbidity and mortality. However, the molecular triggers that cause respiratory pathogens to adopt persistent and often untreatable lifestyles during infection remain largely uncharacterised. Recently, bile aspiration caused by gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) has emerged as a significant complication associated with respiratory disease, and cystic fibrosis (CF) in particular. Based on our previous finding that the physiological concentrations of bile influence respiratory pathogens towards a chronic lifestyle in vitro, we investigated the impact of bile aspiration on the lung microbiome of respiratory patients. Sputum samples (n = 25) obtained from a cohort of paediatric CF patients were profiled for the presence of bile acids using high-resolution liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Pyrosequencing was performed on a set of ten DNA samples that were isolated from bile aspirating (n = 5) and non-bile aspirating (n = 5) patients. Both denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and pyrosequencing revealed significantly reduced biodiversity and richness in the sputum samples from bile aspirating patients when compared with non-aspirating patients. Families and genera associated with the pervasive CF microbiome dominated aspirating patients, while bacteria associated with the healthy lung were most abundant in non-aspirating patients. Bile aspiration linked to GOR is emerging as a major host trigger of chronic bacterial infections. The markedly reduced biodiversity and increased colonisation by dominant proteobacterial CF-associated pathogens observed in the sputum of bile aspirating patients suggest that bile may play a major role in disease progression in CF and other respiratory diseases.
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