A new study conducted by researchers at the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis shows that the upper airway microbiome can have an impact on the severity level of asthma. The researchers discovered a link between bacteria living in respiratory areas and the severity of asthma symptoms in children with mild to moderate asthma.
Specifically, researchers found that children with asthma starting to get severe were more likely to have bacteria such as Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and Moraxella in their upper respiratory tract, bacteria associated with various diseases. They also found that Corynebacterium and Dolosigranulum bacteria were more present in these same respiratory areas when children showed better health and when asthma was under control.
The study, which appeared today in Nature Communications, therefore seems to show that airway bacteria can also play a causative role in this pathology, a discovery that naturally opens up new pathways for the treatment of the same asthma that could also be attempted at this point, for example, by altering these colonies or otherwise acting on them.
And this could represent a sort of godsend, as Avraham Beigelman, professor at the above-mentioned university and senior author of the study, suggests: “Although our study is unable to prove the causal link, it does raise intriguing questions that we intend to pursue. If we somehow integrate these patients with what appears to be good bacteria, will they do better? We are interested in studying whether we can deliberately alter the airway microbiome to reduce the risk of worsening the symptoms of asthma.”
The same possibility of acting on the airway microbiome to combat asthma is also clearly considered by the first author of the study, Yanjiao Zhou, according to whom it is “interesting to discover that microbiome change could play an important role in the exacerbation of asthma. We are planning future studies to explore this possibility.”