Sinus microbiome nothing to sniff at
Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) may not be life threatening, but for an estimated 12 per cent of the population in developed countries, the condition can have a large impact on their quality of life.
CRS is an inflammatory disease of the sinuses with symptoms ranging from nasal discharge and facial pain, to a reduction in the sense of smell.
A multidisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians investigating the link between the types of bacteria found in the sinuses and CRS, have found there is substantial variation from sinus to sinus within one person.
Samples from CRS and control patients undergoing sinuses surgery were analysed to explore the bacterial communities (microbiome) in the sinus cavities.
CRS patients were found to have more of a particular group of bacteria associated with inflammation.
“The microbial communities in and on our bodies, our microbiome, is known to have broad impacts on health and disease states,” said Dr Catherine Burke from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) School of Life Sciences.
“We wanted to examine if there was a link between the types of bacteria found in the sinuses and CRS disease.
“We took samples from as many sinuses as possible per patient to get a more complete picture of the bacterial communities present,” she said.
Using genomic sequencing technology, the team identified the bacteria belonging to the Escherichia genus as being more abundant in CRS.
Dr Nick Stow, an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon affiliated with the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, said this could be as a result of the disease, but could also exacerbate the disease.
“Some Escherichia bacteria are known to be pro-inflammatory in the gut, and they could be doing the same in CRS. Knowing which bacteria might be exacerbating the disease state could help inform treatment,” he says.
While similar studies have been done before, this study looked at all eight sinus cavities.
The next step for the team is to use laboratory models to determine whether cultured bacteria from this group can drive inflammation in sinus cells, and whether this response can be turned off using known or novel treatments.
This research was funded by the UTS and seed industry funding from Medtronic.