Background: Sex differences exist in asthma susceptibility and severity. Accumulating evidence has linked airway microbiome dysbiosis to asthma, and airway microbial communities have been found to differ by sex. However, whether sex modifies the link between airway microbiome and asthma has not been investigated. Objective: To evaluate sex effects in the association between airway microbiome and asthma. Methods: We analyzed induced sputum samples from 47 subjects (n = 23 patients with asthma and n = 24 normal controls) using 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing methods. The bacterial composition was analyzed for sex differences. Bacterial associations with asthma were assessed for each sex at the core taxa and genus levels. Results: The microbiome in induced sputum differed in women vs men at the community level. A total of 5 core bacterial taxa were found in all samples. No sex-specific core taxa were detected. The most abundant core taxon, Streptococcus salivarius, was significantly enriched in women than in men (P =.02). Within each sex, individuals with relatively lower abundance of S salivarius were more likely to have asthma (P =.006). For both sexes, increased Lactobacillus species were found in sputum samples of patients with patients compared with normal controls (adjusted P =.01). Haemophilus species were associated with asthma in men and not in women. Conclusion: The airway microbiome differed by sex, and sex effects exist in the association of airway microbial markers and asthma. Future airway microbiome studies may yield better resolution if the context of specific sex is considered. The airway microbiome is a potential mechanism driving sex differences in asthma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)652-657.e3
JournalAnnals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020


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