Bai X, Narayanan A, Skagerberg M, Ceña-Diez R, Giske CG, Strålin K, Sönnerborg A
Biomedicines 10 (5) - [2022-04-23; online 2022-04-23]
The upper respiratory tract (URT) microbiome can contribute to the acquisition and severity of respiratory viral infections. The described associations between URT microbiota and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection are limited at microbiota genus level and by the lack of functional interpretation. Our study, therefore, characterized the URT bacterial microbiome at species level and their encoded pathways in patients with COVID-19 and correlated these to clinical outcomes. Whole metagenome sequencing was performed on nasopharyngeal samples from hospitalized patients with critical COVID-19 (n = 37) and SARS-CoV-2-negative individuals (n = 20). Decreased bacterial diversity, a reduction in commensal bacteria, and high abundance of pathogenic bacteria were observed in patients compared to negative controls. Several bacterial species and metabolic pathways were associated with better respiratory status and lower inflammation. Strong correlations were found between species biomarkers and metabolic pathways associated with better clinical outcome, especially Moraxella lincolnii and pathways of vitamin K2 biosynthesis. Our study demonstrates correlations between the URT microbiome and COVID-19 patient outcomes; further studies are warranted to validate these findings and to explore the causal roles of the identified microbiome biomarkers in COVID-19 pathogenesis.