There are distinct differences in cystic fibrosis airway microbiota and inflammation in their lower airways, new research shows.

“We compared lower airway samples from bronchoscopy in children with cystic fibrosis and disease controls across the age spectrum and used genetic sequencing to identify microorganisms, finding that a few common cystic fibrosis pathogens begin to dominate at very early ages,”John B. O’Connor, MAclinical research associate in the division of pulmonary and sleep medicine in the department of pediatrics at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago, said in a related press release. “Such a clear split from disease controls in this young age group has not been shown before.”

Researchers evaluated clinical data and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid samples from 191 participants up to age 21 years. Researchers measured total bacterial load and performed gene sequencing to characterize bacterial communities in the samples with species-level sensitivity for select genera.

Sixty-three patients had cystic fibrosis (mean age, 9.7 years; 65% female). The researchers reported higher bacterial load and lower microbial diversity in samples from patients with cystic fibrosis. In addition, these samples also had a divergence from disease controls aged 2 to 5 years and higher neutrophilic inflammation relative to bacterial burden, according to the results.

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The Distinct Cystic Fibrosis Airway Microbiota