Associations between gut microbial colonization in early life and respiratory outcomes in cystic fibrosis

Anne G. Hoen, Jing Li, Lisa A. Moulton, George A. O'Toole, Molly L. Housman, Devin C. Koestler, Margaret Frank Guill, Jason H. Moore, Patricia L. Hibberd, Hilary G. Morrison, Mitchell L. Sogin, Margaret R. Karagas, Juliette C. Madan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Objective To examine patterns of microbial colonization of the respiratory and intestinal tracts in early life in infants with cystic fibrosis (CF) and their associations with breastfeeding and clinical outcomes. Study design A comprehensive, prospective longitudinal analysis of the upper respiratory and intestinal microbiota in a cohort of infants and young children with CF followed from birth was performed. Genus-level microbial community composition was characterized using 16S-targeted pyrosequencing, and relationships with exposures and outcomes were assessed using linear mixed-effects models, time-to-event analysis, and principal components analysis. Results Sequencing of 120 samples from 13 subjects collected from birth to 34 months revealed relationships between breastfeeding, microbial diversity in the respiratory and intestinal tracts, and the timing of onset of respiratory complications, including exacerbations and colonization with Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Fluctuations in the abundance of specific bacterial taxa preceded clinical outcomes, including a significant decrease in bacteria of the genus Parabacteroides within the intestinal tract prior to the onset of chronic P aeruginosa colonization. Specific assemblages of bacteria in intestinal samples, but not respiratory samples, were associated with CF exacerbation in early life, indicating that the intestinal microbiome may play a role in lung health. Conclusions Our findings relating breastfeeding to respiratory outcomes, gut diversity to prolonged periods of health, and specific bacterial communities in the gut prior to respiratory complications in CF highlight a connection between the intestinal microbiome and health and point to potential opportunities for antibiotic or probiotic interventions. Further studies in larger cohorts validating these findings are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-147.e3
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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