Food Science and Technology Department



Jennifer L. Clarke

Date of this Version



PLoS ONE 13 (3): e0191499.


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Open access


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an inflammatory disorder characterized by incompletely reversible airflow obstruction. The complexity of the lung microbial community in COPD patients has been highlighted in recent years. Evidence suggests that transplantation, medications, age, and disease severity influence microbial community membership. However, the dynamics of the lung microbiome in stable COPD patients remain poorly understood. In this study, we completed a longitudinal 16S ribosomal RNA survey of the lung microbiome on replicate sputum samples collected from 4 former smokers with COPD (Stage 2) within a 2-day time period. Samples from each individual over the two-day period were similar based on α-diversity, principle component analysis and taxonomy at the phyla and genera level. Sputum samples from COPD patients were also collected between 2±9 months of follow-up. Data suggest an increased variability of the sputum microbiota when comparing samples collected ≤ 3 months compared to those collected ≥ 4 months; however, no statistically significant shifts in the abundance (>2-fold) of taxa between the two time points was observed. Bacterial composition and the number of operational taxonomic units (OTUs) remained similar over time. Results from this study suggest that the sputum microbiome is relatively stable in clinically stable COPD patients (Stage 2). This study furthers our understanding of the dynamics of the lung microbiome in COPD patients.

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