The pulmonary microbiota

It was long believed that healthy lungs contained no microorganisms. That’s been called into question since the recent discovery of the pulmonary microbiota.

Created 02 August 2021
Updated 01 October 2021

About this article

Created 02 August 2021
Updated 01 October 2021

The composition of the pulmonary microbiota is shaped primarily by environment: climate, geographic zone, the area where you live, and exposure to domestic animals, among others, but it also has many similarities with the intestinal microbiota. The flora in the lower respiratory tract (lungs, bronchi, etc.) is nowhere near uniform, and varies significantly from that of the upper respiratory tract (nose, mouth). Its role is poorly understood, but it might protect us from allergy-related inflammation.

Multiple factors can weaken bacterial diversity and lead to imbalance in the respiratory microbiota: some are related to the body (lowered immune defenses, problems with coughing, etc.), others are environmental (tobacco, viral infections, antibiotic treatment, etc.).
Imbalance ( (sidenote: Dysbiosis Generally defined as an alteration in the composition and function of the microbiota caused by a combination of environmental and individual-specific factors. ) ) in the pulmonary microbiota may promote the emergence of (sidenote: Pathogen A pathogen is a microorganism that causes, or may cause, disease.   Pirofski LA, Casadevall A. Q and A: What is a pathogen? A question that begs the point. BMC Biol. 2012 Jan 31;10:6. ) bacteria or fungi, and contribute to the development of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The Biocodex Microbiota Institute is dedicated to education about human Microbiota for General Public and Healthcare Professionals, it doesn't give any medical advice.
We recommend you to consult a healthcare professional to answer your questions and demands.

  • Michon A-L, Marchandin H. Diversité physiopathologique du microbiote respiratoire. Revue Francophone des Laboratoires - février 2015 - n°469.
  • Shukla SD, Budden KF, Neal R, et al. Microbiome effects on immunity, health and disease in the lung. Clin Transl Immunology. 2017;6(3):e133. Published 2017 Mar 10.

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