13 June 2019 from 12:45 to 13:45

PhD Defence: The role of the upper respiratory tract microbiota in childhood respiratory infections

Respiratory tract infections remain a leading cause of childhood mortality and morbidity worldwide. In this thesis we explored the role of the respiratory microbiota in children with respiratory disease to ultimately provide a foundation for the translation to the clinical context. We demonstrated that the nasopharyngeal microbiota seems to be a gatekeeper for respiratory health. We found a consortium of bacteria that were consistently associated with health, and on the other hand we identified specific viruses and bacterial taxa that were strongly associated with upper and lower respiratory infections. Combining these viral and bacterial findings with data on the host, made it possible to classify health from disease with an unprecedented accuracy. Furthermore, prophylaxis against the most common severe viral infection in infancy, RSV, was associated with persistent effects on the respiratory microbiota composition at age six that in turn was associated with features of asthma. In line with this, we show that early life differences in nasopharyngeal microbiota composition were associated with higher susceptibility to respiratory infections later in life. These data suggest that the infant respiratory microbiota play a pivotal role in maintaining the equilibrium that determines childhood respiratory health and disease. The nasopharyngeal microbial community forms the boundary between the environment and the respiratory tract including ears and lungs, and that it has major promise for future diagnosis, treatment and prevention of childhood respiratory tract infections.

Start date and time
13 June 2019 12:45
End date and time
13 June 2019 13:45
PhD candidate
Wing Ho Man
The role of the upper respiratory tract microbiota in childhood respiratory infections
PhD supervisor(s)
Prof. E.A.M. SandersProf. D. Bogaert
Prof. M.A. van Houten
Entrance fee