Age-related changes in the nasopharyngeal microbiome are associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and symptoms among children, adolescents, and young adults.
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BackgroundChildren are less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and typically have milder illness courses than adults, but the factors underlying these age-associated differences are not well understood. The upper respiratory microbiome undergoes substantial shifts during childhood and is increasingly recognized to influence host defense against respiratory pathogens. Thus, we sought to identify upper respiratory microbiome features associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection susceptibility and illness severity.
MethodsWe collected clinical data and nasopharyngeal swabs from 285 children, adolescents, and young adults (<21 years of age) with documented SARS-CoV-2 exposure. We used 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing to characterize the nasopharyngeal microbiome and evaluated for age-adjusted associations between microbiome characteristics and SARS-CoV-2 infection status and respiratory symptoms.
ResultsNasopharyngeal microbiome composition varied with age (PERMANOVA, p<0.001, R 2=0.06) and between SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals with and without respiratory symptoms (PERMANOVA, p=0.002, R 2=0.009). SARS-CoV-2-infected participants with Corynebacterium/Dolosigranulum-dominant microbiome profiles were less likely to have respiratory symptoms than infected participants with other nasopharyngeal microbiome profiles (odds ratio: 0.38, 95% confidence interval: 0.18-0.81). Using generalized joint attributed modeling, we identified nine bacterial taxa associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and six taxa that were differentially abundant among SARS-CoV-2-infected participants with respiratory symptoms; the magnitude of these associations was strongly influenced by age.
ConclusionsWe identified interactive relationships between age and specific nasopharyngeal microbiome features that are associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection susceptibility and symptoms in children, adolescents, and young adults. Our data suggest that the upper respiratory microbiome may be a mechanism by which age influences SARS-CoV-2 susceptibility and illness severity.
Published Version (Please cite this version)
Hurst, Jillian H, Alexander W McCumber, Jhoanna N Aquino, Javier Rodriguez, Sarah M Heston, Debra J Lugo, Alexandre T Rotta, Nicholas A Turner, et al. (2022). Age-related changes in the nasopharyngeal microbiome are associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection and symptoms among children, adolescents, and young adults. Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. 10.1093/cid/ciac184 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/24782.
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