Patterns in the longitudinal oropharyngeal microbiome evolution related to ventilator-associated pneumonia

Rami Sommerstein, Tobias M. Merz, Sabine Berger, Julia G. Kraemer, Jonas Marschall, Markus Hilty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: The aim of the study was to evaluate the composition and the temporal evolution of the oropharyngeal microbiome in antibiotic-naïve patients requiring mechanical ventilation and to gain new insights into the pathogenesis of ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). Methods: Prospective, observational single-center nested case-control study. Patients with acute critical illness and anticipated duration of mechanical ventilation > 4 days were eligible. We took oropharyngeal swabs (and if available, tracheal secretions) daily, starting at the day of intubation. The microbiota was characterized by 16S rRNA high-throughput sequencing and compared between patients developing VAP versus controls. Results: Five patients developed VAP. In three patient the causative pathogens were Enterobacteriaceae and in two Haemophilus influenzae. Locally weighted polynomial regression suggested that the within diversity (=alpha) was lower in Enterobacteriaceae VAP patients between days two to five of mechanical ventilation when compared to controls. Detection of Enterobacteriaceae in the oropharynx occurred on day two of follow-up and consisted of a single operational taxonomic unit in 2/3 patients with enterobacterial VAP. Conclusions: In acutely-ill patients who developed enterobacterial VAP the causative pathogen gained access to the oropharynx early after starting mechanical ventilation and outgrew the commensal members of the microbiome. Whether a specific pattern of the oropharyngeal microbiome between days three to five of mechanical ventilation may predict VAP enterobacterial VAP has to be evaluated in further studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number81
JournalAntimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 22 2019


  • Infection prevention
  • Intensive care
  • Nosocomial pneumonia
  • Oropharyngeal and tracheal microbiome
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia


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