Short-term particulate matter exposure influences nasal microbiota in a population of healthy subjects

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Exposure to air pollutants, such as particulate matter (PM), represents a growing health problem. The aim of our study was to investigate whether PM could induce a dysbiosis in the nasal microbiota in terms of α-diversity and taxonomic composition.


We investigated structure and characteristics of the microbiota of 40 healthy subjects through metabarcoding analysis of the V3–V4 regions of the 16s rRNA gene. Exposure to PM10 and PM2.5 was assessed with a personal sampler worn for 24 h before sample collection (Day −1) and with measurements from monitoring stations (from Day −2 to Day −7).


We found an inverse association between PM10 and PM2.5 levels of the 3rd day preceding sampling (Day −3) and α-diversity indices (Chao1, Shannon and PD_whole_tree). Day −3 PM was inversely associated also with the majority of analyzed taxa, except for Moraxella, which showed a positive association. In addition, subjects showed different structural profiles identifying two groups: one characterized by an even community and another widely dominated by the Moraxella genus.


Our findings support the role of PM exposure in influencing microbiota and altering the normal homeostasis within the bacterial community. Whether these alterations could have a role in disease development and/or exacerbation needs further research.

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