Persistent and unique microbial communities impart the majority of genetic and metabolic diversity in humans, and their composition and activity are important indicators of health and disease. In people with chronic lung infections, higher densities of microbes in the lungs lead to the production of larger numbers of microbial metabolites. The lives of patients with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) are punctuated by periods of worsened symptoms known as Pulmonary Exacerbations (CFPE). Pulmonary exacerbations and acute respiratory distress cause irreversible, life shortening destruction of the airways in patients with CF, COPD, sepsis or pneumonia. The triggers of CFPE are poorly understood. Current tools such as clinical culturing take days to obtain results, and are not able to detect whether a patient is undergoing CFPE, leaving physicians to make choices about antibiotic treatment based on trial and error. We have preliminary evidence that suggests microbial fermentation products such as 2,3-butanedione may be important indicators of CFPE. They may also increase microbial virulence and trigger the host immune response. Metabolites produced by common members of oral microbial communities (i.e. Streptococcus spp.) can alter the physiology of famous opportunistic lung pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Sponsored by the Host Microbiome Initiative