Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 25726559
Eur Respir Rev 2015 Mar;24(135):78-91
This article is the summary of a workshop, which took place in November 2013, on the roles of microorganisms in chronic respiratory diseases. Until recently, it was assumed that lower airways were sterile in healthy individuals. However, it has long been acknowledged that microorganisms could be identified in distal airway secretions from patients with various respiratory diseases, including cystic fibrosis (CF) and non-CF bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and other chronic airway diseases (e.g. post-transplantation bronchiolitis obliterans). These microorganisms were sometimes considered as infectious agents that triggered host immune responses and contributed to disease onset and/or progression; alternatively, microorganisms were often considered as colonisers, which were considered unlikely to play roles in disease pathophysiology. These concepts were developed at a time when the identification of microorganisms relied on culture-based methods. Importantly, the majority of microorganisms cannot be cultured using conventional methods, and the use of novel culture-independent methods that rely on the identification of microorganism genomes has revealed that healthy distal airways display a complex flora called the airway microbiota. The present article reviews some aspects of current literature on host-microbe (mostly bacteria and viruses) interactions in healthy and diseased airways, with a special focus on distal airways.