Microbiome characteristics of induced sputum compared to bronchial fluid and upper airway samples

Shi-qi An, Adilia Warris, Steve Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Objective. The study of the community of microorganisms (the microbiota) in the lower airways in children is restricted to opportunistic sampling in children undergoing elective general anaesthetic. Here we tested the hypothesis that induced sputum is a valid alternative to directly sampling the lower airways to study lower airway microbiota.
Methods. Children scheduled for elective operations were recruited. Pre-operatively a sample of induced sputum was obtained. After anaesthesia was induced, a bronchial brushing and swabs of the upper respiratory tract were obtained. Bacterial community analysis was performed by amplification of the V3-V4 16S rRNA gene region.
Results. Twenty children were recruited, mean age 10.7 years. Induced sputum samples were obtained from 12 children, bronchial brushing from 14 and nasal, mouth and throat samples in 15, 16 and 17 children. The profile of bacterial communities was similar in the mouth, throat and sputum samples with the nose and bronchial samples being different. Actinobacteria species dominated the nose and mouth, Fusobacteria were the dominant species in the throat and sputum whilst Proteobacteria species dominated in bronchial samples. Forty-one percent of detected bacteria in bronchial samples were unclassified. Bacterial communities from the mouth, throat and induced sputum were tightly clustered
and were distinct from nose and those found in bronchial communities.
Conclusions. Induced sputum may not be a valid surrogate for microbiome assessment of the lower airways in all individuals. Many bacteria in bronchial samples were not recognised by standard testing, suggesting that our understanding of the lower airway microbiota in children remains rudimentary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-928
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Pulmonology
Issue number7
Early online date4 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to thank the study participants and their parents. The study was supported by an NHS-Grampian Endowments. AW is supported by the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award (grant 097377) and the MRC Centre for Medical Mycology (grant MR/N006364/1) at the University of Aberdeen.


  • infections
  • pneumonia
  • TB
  • Viral


Dive into the research topics of 'Microbiome characteristics of induced sputum compared to bronchial fluid and upper airway samples'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this