Mechanical ventilation affects respiratory microbiome of COVID-19 patients and its interactions with the host [article]

Verónica Lloréns-Rico, Ann C. Gregory, Johan Van Weyenbergh, Sander Jansen, Tina Van Buyten, Junbin Qian, Marcos Braz, Soraya Maria Menezes, Pierre Van Mol, Lore Vanderbeke, Christophe Dooms, Jan Gunst (+8 others)
2020 medRxiv   pre-print
Understanding the pathology of COVID-19 is a global research priority. Early evidence suggests that the microbiome may be playing a role in disease progression, yet current studies report contradictory results. Here, we examine potential confounders in COVID-19 microbiome studies by analyzing the upper (n=58) and lower (n=35) respiratory tract microbiome in well-phenotyped COVID-19 patients and controls combining microbiome sequencing, viral load determination, and immunoprofiling. We found
more » ... time in the intensive care unit and the type of oxygen support explained the most variation within the upper respiratory tract microbiome, dwarfing (non-significant) effects from viral load, disease severity, and immune status. Specifically, mechanical ventilation was linked to altered community structure, lower species- and higher strain-level diversity, and significant shifts in oral taxa previously associated with COVID-19. Single-cell transcriptomic analysis of the lower respiratory tract of ventilated COVID-19 patients identified increased oral microbiota compared to controls. These oral microbiota were found physically associated with proinflammatory immune cells, which showed higher levels of inflammatory markers. Overall, our findings suggest confounders are driving contradictory results in current COVID-19 microbiome studies and careful attention needs to be paid to ICU stay and type of oxygen support, as bacteria favored in these conditions may contribute to the inflammatory phenotypes observed in severe COVID-19 patients.
doi:10.1101/2020.12.23.20248425 fatcat:22qdtsktdbefhgiw6n3hkxfhci