COPD has multiple disease phenotypes and the mechanisms responsible for this heterogeneity are poorly understood. Inflammation in response to the COPD lung microbiota is one potential mechanism by which some patients suffer frequent exacerbations and others do not. This project has two aims:
- Identify patients undergoing clinically indicated lung lobectomy and sample their oral, nasal, sputum, and lung tissue microbiota in a manner that avoids upper airway contamination. This study will identify a method for accurate, noninvasive sampling of the lung microbiota. This work will define the microbiota of the COPD lung and the healthy lung without upper airway contamination and will establish a non-invasive technique for studying the lung microbiota.
- Conduct a prospective study comparing the lung microbiota and lung inflammatory biomarkers of frequent exacerbators to infrequent exacerbators. This will identify specific co-varying microbiota and sputum inflammatory biomarkers that can identify exacerbation phenotype and alsoserve as targets for new COPD therapies.
Both parts of the project will utilize advanced biostatistical tools, which will allow the researchers to correlate specific features of the lung microbiota with lung inflammation. The overall objective of this project is to determine key features that differentiate the upper airway and lung microbiota of COPD patients with a frequent exacerbator phenotype from those with the infrequent exacerbator phenotype.
The long-term goal is to understand the role of the lung microbiota in the pathogenesis of inflammatory lung disorders. This work will form the basis for further clinical and translational research to establish the mechanisms by which the lung microbiota contributes to COPD pathogenesis.