New data reveals that viral infections in cystic fibrosis patients are linked to pulmonary exacerbations.

“Our research suggests that in pediatric patients with [cystic fibrosis], viral infections are associated with pulmonary exacerbations and changes in respiratory microbial communities may be part of the underlying mechanism,” Gina T. Coscia, MD, of Columbia University Medical Center, told

Viruses are already known to negatively affect the clinical status of patients with CF, however their effects on the respiratory microbiome are unknown, the researchers wrote.

To determine whether the viruses negatively affect the microbiome, the researchers performed a prospective longitudinal study of 102 patients with CF aged younger than 22 years between 2013 and 2014. The researchers collected swab, sputum, bronchoalveolar lavage and oropharyngeal samples from the patients at both baseline and exacerbation states. For bacterial detection, the researchers used Illumina sequencing and standard culture. For viral detection, the researchers used quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction.

The researchers collected 380 samples from their 102 patients, 73 of which were virus positive and 307 were virus negative. The most common viruses found were rhinovirus/enterovirus and coronavirus. The researchers found that virus positive samples were associated with a higher prevalence of traditional CF pathogens. However, they found no association between viral infections and clinical status or lung function. Using deep-sequencing, they found some changes in the amount of microbiota bacteria in virus positive samples compared with virus negative.

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