Shutterstock/Chronic Rhinosinusitis can cause nasal discharge, severe facial pain and  a reduction in the sense of smell.

Sinus microbiome study investigates link between bacteria and chronic disease

Embargoed until: Publicly released:
Chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) may not be life threatening but for an estimated 12% of the population in developed countries the condition can have a large impact on their quality of life. CRS is an inflammatory disease of the sinuses with symptoms ranging from nasal discharge and facial pain to a reduction in the sense of smell.

Journal/conference: Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology

Organisation/s: University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

Funder: University of Technology Sydney, Medtronic

Media Release

From: University of Technology Sydney (UTS)

A multidisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians investigating the link between the types of bacteria found in the sinuses and Chronic Rhinosinusitis (CRS) have found there is substantial variation from sinus to sinus within one person.

 The study, published in Cellular and Infection Microbiology was led by Dr Nick Stow, an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon affiliated with the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, and Dr Catherine Burke from the University of Technology Sydney, School of Life Sciences and ithree institute.

Samples from CRS and control patients undergoing sinuses surgery were analysed to explore the bacterial communities (microbiome) in the sinus cavities. CRS patients were found to have more of a particular group of bacteria associated with inflammation.

“The microbial communities in and on our bodies, our microbiome, is known to have broad impacts on health and disease states.  We wanted to examine if there was a link between the types of bacteria found in the sinuses and CRS disease," Dr Burke says.

“We took samples from as many sinuses as possible per patient to get a more complete picture of the bacterial communities present,” she says.

Using genomic sequencing technology the team identified the bacteria belonging to the Escherichia genus as being more abundant in CRS patients.

Dr Stow says this could be as a result of the disease, but could also exacerbate the disease. 

“Some Escherichia bacteria are known to be pro-inflammatory in the gut, and they could be doing the same in CRS.  Knowing which bacteria might be exacerbating the disease state could help inform treatment,” he says.

The next step is to use laboratory models to determine whether cultured bacteria from this group can drive inflammation in sinus cells, and whether this response can be turned off using known or novel treatments. 

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