Lower Airway Microbiota and Lung Cancer

  • Sanchez-Hellin, Victoria (Section of Microbiology, Hospital General Universitario de Elche) ;
  • Galiana, Antonio (Section of Microbiology, Hospital General Universitario de Elche) ;
  • Zamora-Molina, Lucia (Section of Respiratory Medicine, Hospital General Universitario de Elche) ;
  • Soler-Sempere, Maria J. (Section of Respiratory Medicine, Hospital General Universitario de Elche) ;
  • Grau-Delgado, Justo (Section of Respiratory Medicine, Hospital General Universitario de Elche) ;
  • Barbera, Victor M. (Molecular Genetics Unit, Hospital General Universitario de Elche) ;
  • Padilla-Navas, Isabel (Section of Respiratory Medicine, Hospital General Universitario de Elche) ;
  • Garcia-Pachon, Eduardo (Section of Respiratory Medicine, Hospital General Universitario de Elche)
  • Received : 2018.11.20
  • Accepted : 2018.12.24
  • Published : 2019.09.28


This study was aimed at identifying the lower airway microbiota in patients with lung cancer (LC) using protected brush sampling. We enrolled 37 patients undergoing diagnostic bronchoscopy for suspected LC, 26 with LC and 11 with benign diseases. Protected brush specimens were obtained from the contralateral lung and the side of the tumor; these specimens were analyzed by 16S rRNA-based-next-generation sequencing. The results indicated that the biodiversity was not different between groups, and there were no significant differences between the proportion of microorganisms in the tumor and in the contralateral side of patients with LC. In patients with LC, there was a higher abundance of several microorganisms including Capnocytophaga, Haemophilus, Enterococcus, and Streptococcus; whereas, in individuals without LC, Bacteroides, Lactobacillus, or Methylobacterium were more abundant. Malignancy could be determined with an accuracy of 70% by isolating Enterococcus, Capnocytophaga, or Actinomyces. Microbispora indicated benignity with a sensitivity of 55%, specificity of 88%, and accuracy of 78%. Lower airway microbiota in patients with LC is fairly similar in both the tumor and contralateral sites. Endobronchial microbiota is different in patients with and without LC, and these differences may have a potential clinical value as diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers.


Biomarkers;bronchoscopy;DNA sequencing;high-throughput technologies;microbiome


Supported by : Fundacion de Neumologia de la Comunidad Valenciana


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