Clinical Assistant Professor,
Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Surgery
Alberta Children's Hospital
2888 Shaganappi Trail NW
Calgary AB T3A 6A8
The role of the microbiome in pediatric upper airway disease
Within the upper airway, numerous species of bacteria reside on the mucosa, at the interface between the host immune response and the environment. This bacterial community can include pathogens that are carried asymptomatically, as well as commensal bacteria that may protect the host from invasive disease. This complex community of bacteria is termed the microbiome, and changes in its composition have been correlated with a variety of acute and chronic pediatric diseases, including ear infections, tonsillitis, and obstructive sleep apnea. However, more specific information regarding how and why these changes in the microbiome are related to the acquisition of these diseases is not known.
By collecting upper airway samples from pediatric patients who are already scheduled to receive surgery under general anesthetic and utilizing a combination of classical microbiology culture techniques, in addition to culture-independent molecular profiling technology we are conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the pediatric upper airway microbiome. Our aim is to: (1) using tissue biopsy of nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal lymphoid tissue (adenoid and tonsil) as the gold-standard, identify the bacterial species within the upper airway microbiome in children; (2) determine the accuracy and utility of tissue swabs as a method of sampling and accurately representing the upper airway microbiome, and (3) evaluate alterations in the microbiome across age, gender, ethnicity, immunization status, recent antibiotic use, and association with upper airway disease, including adenotonsillar hyperplasia, tonsillitis and otitis media.