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Systems Biology of Metabolism in Infections

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Front. Cell. Infect. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2018.00432

Comparative metabolomic sampling of upper and lower airways by four different methods to identify biochemicals that may support bacterial growth

 Hugo Farne1,  Helen Groves1, 2, Simren Gill1, 2, Isobel Stokes3, Maria-Belen Trujillo-Torralbo1, Sebastian Johnston1, Patrick Mallia1 and  John S. Tregoning1, 2*
  • 1National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • 2Section of Virology, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
  • 3Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, United Kingdom

Bacteria need nutrients from the host environment to survive, yet we know little about which biochemicals are present in the airways (the metabolome), which of these are essential for bacterial growth and how they change with airway disease. The aims of this pilot study were to develop and compare methodologies for sampling the upper and lower airway metabolomes, to determine whether the upper airway metabolome was reflective of the lower airway and to identify biochemicals present in the airways that could potentially support bacterial growth. Eight healthy human volunteers were sampled by four methods: two standard approaches - nasal lavage and induced sputum, and two using a novel platform, synthetic adsorptive matrix (SAM) strips - nasosorption and bronchosorption. Collected samples were analysed by Ultrahigh Performance Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectroscopy (UPLC-MS/MS). 581 biochemicals, belonging to a range of metabolomic super-pathways, were recovered from the airways. We observed significant differences in the upper and lower airway metabolomes. Significantly more biochemicals were recovered when SAM strips were used, compared to standard sampling techniques. Many of the biochemicals that support bacterial growth were significantly more abundant in the upper than the lower airways. This work demonstrates for the first time that SAM strips are a highly effective method for sampling the airway metabolome and that the metabolomic profile of the upper airway does not completely reflect the lower airway. This work will assist further studies to understand how changes in the airway metabolome affect bacterial infection in patients with underlying airway disease.

Keywords: airway metabolome, airway sampling methods, healthy volunteers, upper airways, lower aiways, synthetic adsorptive matrix strips

Received: 22 May 2018; Accepted: 30 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Tunahan Cakir, Gebze Technical University, Turkey

Reviewed by:

Justin Van Der Hooft, Wageningen University & Research, Netherlands
Hilal Taymaz Nikerel, Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey  

Copyright: © 2018 Farne, Groves, Gill, Stokes, Trujillo-Torralbo, Johnston, Mallia and Tregoning. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. John S. Tregoning, Imperial College London, Section of Virology, London, United Kingdom, john.tregoning@imperial.ac.uk