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Early nasal microbiota and acute respiratory infections during the first years of life


Background Emerging evidence shows that airway microbiota may modulate local immune responses, thereby contributing to the susceptibility and severity of acute respiratory infections (ARIs). However, there are little data on the longitudinal relationships between airway microbiota and susceptibility to ARIs in children.

Objective We aimed to investigate the association of early nasal microbiota and the subsequent risk of ARIs during the first years of life.

Methods In this prospective population-based birth-cohort study in Finland, we followed 839 healthy infants for ARIs from birth to age 24 months. Nasal microbiota was tested using 16S rRNA gene sequencing at age 2 months. We applied an unsupervised clustering approach to identify early nasal microbiota profiles, and examined the association of profiles with the rate of ARIs during age 2–24 months.

Results We identified five nasal microbiota profiles dominated by Moraxella, Streptococcus, Dolosigranulum, Staphylococcus and Corynebacteriaceae, respectively. Incidence rate of ARIs was highest in children with an early Moraxella-dominant profile and lowest in those with a Corynebacteriaceae-dominant profile (738 vs 552/100 children years; unadjusted incidence rate ratio (IRR), 1.34; 95% CI 1.16 to 1.54; p < 0.001). After adjusting for nine potential confounders, the Moraxella-dominant profile-ARI association persisted (adjusted IRR (aIRR), 1.19; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.37; p = 0.01). Similarly, the incidence rate of lower respiratory tract infections (a subset of all ARIs) was significantly higher in children with an early Moraxella-dominant profile (aIRR, 2.79; 95% CI 1.04 to 8.09; p = 0.04).

Conclusion Moraxella-dominant nasal microbiota profile in early infancy was associated with an increased rate of ARIs during the first 2 years of life.

  • children
  • infant
  • lower respiratory tract infection
  • moraxella
  • nasal microbiota
  • respiratory infections
  • steps study
  • wheezing
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