Lung Microbiota Changes Associated with Chronic Pseudomonas aeruginosa Lung Infection and the Impact of Intravenous Colistimethate Sodium

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BACKGROUND: Exacerbations associated with chronic lung infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa are a major contributor to morbidity, mortality and premature death in cystic fibrosis. Such exacerbations are treated with antibiotics, which generally lead to an improvement in lung function and reduced sputum P. aeruginosa density. This potentially suggests a role for the latter in the pathogenesis of exacerbations. However, other data suggesting that changes in P. aeruginosa sputum culture status may not reliably predict an improvement in clinical status, and data indicating no significant changes in either total bacterial counts or in P. aeruginosa numbers in sputum samples collected prior to pulmonary exacerbation sheds doubt on this assumption. We used our recently developed lung segmental model of chronic Pseudomonas infection in sheep to investigate the lung microbiota changes associated with chronic P. aeruginosa lung infection and the impact of systemic therapy with colistimethate sodium (CMS).

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: We collected protected specimen brush (PSB) samples from sheep (n = 8) both prior to and 14 days after establishment of chronic local lung infection with P aeruginosa. Samples were taken from both directly infected lung segments (direct) and segments spatially remote to such sites (remote). Four sheep were treated with daily intravenous injections of CMS between days 7 and 14, and four were treated with a placebo. Necropsy examination at d14 confirmed the presence of chronic local lung infection and lung pathology in every direct lung segment. The predominant orders in lung microbiota communities before infection were Bacillales, Actinomycetales and Clostridiales. While lung microbiota samples were more likely to share similarities with other samples derived from the same lung, considerable within- and between-animal heterogeneity could be appreciated. Pseudomonadales joined the aforementioned list of predominant orders in lung microbiota communities after infection. Whilst treatment with CMS appeared to have little impact on microbial community composition after infection, or the change undergone by communities in reaching that state, when Gram negative organisms (excluding Pseudomonadales) were considered together as a group there was a significant decrease in their relative proportion that was only observed in the sheep treated with CMS. With only one exception the reduction was seen in both direct and remote lung segments. This reduction, coupled with generally increasing or stable levels of Pseudomonadales, meant that the proportion of the latter relative to total Gram negative bacteria increased in all bar one direct and one remote lung segment.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The proportional increase in Pseudomonadales relative to other Gram negative bacteria in the lungs of sheep treated with systemic CMS highlights the potential for such therapies to inadvertently select or create a niche for bacteria seeding from a persistent source of chronic infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0142097
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2015


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