The early-life human airway microbiome is a dynamic multi-kingdom entity

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There is increasing evidence that the airway microbiome plays a key role in the establishment of respiratory health by interacting with the developing immune system early in life.

Ms Céline Pattaroni, in Professor Ben Marsland's group at the Department of Immunology and Pathology, won a L.E.W. Carty grant of $300,000 last year to study mechanisms of asthma in early childhood.

Some of the work that formed the basis of that grant application has now been published in the journal ‘Microbiome’ (IF 14.7). It describes the bacterial and fungal members of the airway microbiome and how they align with the developing immune system in the first post-natal week.

"Obtaining data from human infants, we showed that the airway microbiome is a multi-kingdom entity capable of influencing local immunity in the first week of life," said Ms Pattaroni. Their results suggest that early-life patterns of microbial-immune crosstalk could represent distinct trajectories for future respiratory health.

The inter-kingdom interactions that influence immune development remain unknown. "These early life interactions might be involved in setting infants on a trajectory towards health or disease, for example asthma. While it has become clear that bacteria are involved in this process, there is a knowledge gap concerning the role of fungi," said Professor Ben Marsland, the senior author on the paper. "The fungal aspects of this work - the ‘mycobiome’ - is particularly novel."

Reference

Pattaroni C, Macowan M, Chatzis R, Daunt C, Custovic A, Shields MD, Power UF, Grigg J, Roberts G, Ghazal P, Schwarze J, Gore M, Turner S, Bush A, Saglani S, Lloyd CM, Marsland BJ. Early life inter-kingdom interactions shape the immunological environment of the airways. Microbiome. 2022 Feb 21;10(1):34. doi: 10.1186/s40168-021-01201-y. PMID: 35189979; PMCID: PMC8862481.