Indoor microbial communities: Influence on asthma severity in atopic and nonatopic children

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Allergic and nonallergic asthma severity in children can be affected by microbial exposures.


We sought to examine associations between exposures to household microbes and childhood asthma severity stratified by atopic status.


Participants (n = 196) were selected from a cohort of asthmatic children in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Children were grouped according to asthma severity (mild with no or minimal symptoms and medication or moderate to severe persistent) and atopic status (determined by serum IgE levels). Microbial community structure and concentrations in house dust were determined by using next-generation DNA sequencing and quantitative PCR. Logistic regression was used to explore associations between asthma severity and exposure metrics, including richness, taxa identification and quantification, community composition, and concentration of total fungi and bacteria.


Among all children, increased asthma severity was significantly associated with an increased concentration of summed allergenic fungal species, high total fungal concentrations, and high bacterial richness by using logistic regression in addition to microbial community composition by using the distance comparisonttest. Asthma severity in atopic children was associated with fungal community composition (P= .001). By using logistic regression, asthma severity in nonatopic children was associated with total fungal concentration (odds ratio, 2.40; 95% CI, 1.06-5.44). The fungal genusVolutellawas associated with increased asthma severity in atopic children (P= .0001,q= 0.04). The yeast generaKondoamight be protective;Cryptococcusspecies might also affect asthma severity.


Asthma severity among this cohort of children was associated with microbial exposure, and associations differed based on atopic status.

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