Posted: 2021-10-30 19:00:00
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused over three million deaths worldwide. Understanding the pathology of the disease and the factors that drive severe and fatal clinical outcomes is of special relevance. Studying the role of the respiratory microbiota in COVID-19 is especially important as the respiratory microbiota is known to interact with the host immune system, contributing to clinical outcomes in chronic and acute respiratory diseases. Here, we characterized the microbiota in the respiratory tract of patients with mild, severe, or fatal COVID-19, and compared it to healthy controls and patients with non-COVID-19-pneumonia. We comparatively studied the microbial composition, diversity, and microbiota structure between the study groups and correlated the results with clinical data. We found differences in the microbial composition for COVID-19 patients, healthy controls, and non-COVID-19 pneumonia controls. In particular, we detected a high number of potentially opportunistic pathogens associated with severe and fatal levels of the disease. Also, we found higher levels of dysbiosis in the respiratory microbiota of patients with COVID-19 compared to the healthy controls. In addition, we detected differences in diversity structure between the microbiota of patients with mild, severe, and fatal COVID-19, as well as the presence of specific bacteria that correlated with clinical variables associated with increased risk of mortality. In summary, our results demonstrate that increased dysbiosis of the respiratory tract microbiota in patients with COVID-19 along with a continuous loss of microbial complexity structure found in mild to fatal COVID-19 cases may potentially alter clinical outcomes in patients. Taken together, our findings identify the respiratory microbiota as a factor potentially associated with the severity of COVID-19.
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