Disordered microbial communities in the upper respiratory tract of cigarette smokers

Emily S. Charlson, Jun Chen, Rebecca Custers-Allen, Kyle Bittinger, Hongzhe Li, Rohini Sinha, Jennifer Hwang, Frederic D. Bushman, Ronald G. Collman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

169 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cigarette smokers have an increased risk of infectious diseases involving the respiratory tract. Some effects of smoking on specific respiratory tract bacteria have been described, but the consequences for global airway microbial community composition have not been determined. Here, we used culture-independent high-density sequencing to analyze the microbiota from the right and left nasopharynx and oropharynx of 29 smoking and 33 nonsmoking healthy asymptomatic adults to assess microbial composition and effects of cigarette smoking. Bacterial communities were profiled using 454 pyrosequencing of 16S sequence tags (803,391 total reads), aligned to 16S rRNA databases, and communities compared using the UniFrac distance metric. A Random Forest machine-learning algorithm was used to predict smoking status and identify taxa that best distinguished between smokers and nonsmokers. Community composition was primarily determined by airway site, with individuals exhibiting minimal side-of-body or temporal variation. Within airway habitats, microbiota from smokers were significantly more diverse than nonsmokers and clustered separately. The distributions of several genera were systematically altered by smoking in both the oro- and nasopharynx, and there was an enrichment of anaerobic lineages associated with periodontal disease in the oropharynx. These results indicate that distinct regions of the human upper respiratory tract contain characteristic microbial communities that exhibit disordered patterns in cigarette smokers, both in individual components and global structure, which may contribute to the prevalence of respiratory tract complications in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere15216
JournalPloS one
Volume5
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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    Charlson, E. S., Chen, J., Custers-Allen, R., Bittinger, K., Li, H., Sinha, R., Hwang, J., Bushman, F. D., & Collman, R. G. (2010). Disordered microbial communities in the upper respiratory tract of cigarette smokers. PloS one, 5(12), [e15216]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0015216