Lung diseases caused by microbial infections affect hundreds of millions of children and adults throughout the world. In Western populations, the treatment of lung infections is a primary driver of antibiotic resistance. Traditional therapeutic strategies have been based on the premise that the healthy lung is sterile and that infections grow in a pristine environment. As a consequence, rapid advances in our understanding of the composition of the microbiota of the skin and bowel have not yet been matched by studies of the respiratory tree. The recognition that the lungs are as populated with microorganisms as other mucosal surfaces provides the opportunity to reconsider the mechanisms and management of lung infections. Molecular analyses of the lung microbiota are revealing profound adverse responses to widespread antibiotic use, urbanization and globalization. This Opinion article proposes how technologies and concepts flowing from the Human Microbiome Project can transform the diagnosis and treatment of common lung diseases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Infectious Diseases