Progressive loss of lung function resulting from the inflammatory response to bacterial colonization is the leading cause of mortality in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. A greater understanding of these bacterial infections is needed to improve lung disease management. As culture-based diagnoses are associated with fundamental drawbacks, we used terminal restriction fragment (T-RF) length polymorphism profiling and 16S rRNA clone data to characterize, without prior cultivation, the bacterial community in 71 sputa from 34 adult CF patients. Nineteen species from 15 genera were identified in 53 16S rRNA clones from three patients. Of these, 15 species have not previously been reported in CF lung infections and many were species requiring strict anaerobic conditions for growth. The species richness and evenness were determined from the T-RF length and volume for the 71 profiles. Species richness was on average 13.3 ± 7.9 per sample and 13.4 ± 6.7 per patient. On average, the T-RF bands of the lowest and highest volumes represented 0.6 and 59.2% of the total volume in each profile, respectively. The second through fifth most dominant T-RF bands represented 15.3, 7.5, 4.7, and 2.8% of the total profile volume, respectively. On average, the remaining T-RF bands represented 10.2% of the total profile volume. The T-RF band corresponding to Pseudomonas aeruginosa had the highest volume in 61.1% of the samples. However, 18 other T-RF band lengths were dominant in at least one sample. In conclusion, this reveals the enormous complexity of bacteria within the CF lung. Although their significance is yet to be determined, these findings alter our perception of CF lung infections.
- cystic fibrosis
- lung infections