The interaction between infections and the microbiota during infancy in the lungs could help provide clues to disease development later in life, according to research at ERS 2015.

The interaction of human rhinovirus and the microbiota could aid in prevention of disease or the development of new therapeutic procedures, says Dr Insa Korten, from the University Children’s Hospitals in Bern and Basel, Switzerland.

Early life viral infections are important for the development of respiratory conditions, such as asthma, later in life. However it is not yet known whether these two elements — early life virus infections and the microbiota — are linked.

Researchers studied the association between viral infections in the nose and the nasal microbiota during infancy. They included 32 otherwise healthy infants from the BILD (Basel Bern Infant Lung Development) cohort study and took a nasal swab every other week from the age of 5 weeks until the age of 1 year. In each sample, the microbiota and 12 different viruses were analysed.

Results showed that the bacterial diversity of the respiratory microbiota decreased when infants were infected with rhinovirus and showing symptoms. Conversely, asymptomatic infection with rhinovirus did not lead to reduced diversity of the microbiota.