Community analysis of dental plaque and endotracheal tube biofilms from mechanically ventilated patients

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Mechanically ventilated patients are at risk for developing ventilator-associated pneumonia, and it has been reported that dental plaque provides a reservoir of respiratory pathogens that may aspirate to the lungs and endotracheal tube (ETT) biofilms. For the first time, metataxonomics was used to simultaneously characterize the microbiome of dental plaque, ETTs, and non-directed bronchial lavages (NBLs) in mechanically ventilated patients to determine similarities in respective microbial communities and therefore likely associations.

Material and methods:

Bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences from 34 samples of dental plaque, NBLs, and ETTs from 12 adult mechanically ventilated patients were analyzed.


No significant differences in the microbial communities of these samples were evident. Detected bacteria were primarily oral species (e.g., Fusobacterium nucleatum, Streptococcus salivarius, Prevotella melaninogenica) with respiratory pathogens (Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Streptococcuspneumoniae, and Haemophilus influenzae) also in high abundance.


The high similarity between the microbiomes of dental plaque, NBLs, and ETTs suggests that the oral cavity is indeed an important site involved in microbial aspiration to the lower airway and ETT. As such, maintenance of good oral hygiene is likely to be highly important in limiting aspiration of bacteria in this vulnerable patient group.

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