Altered Middle Ear Microbiome in Children With Chronic Otitis Media With Effusion and Respiratory Illnesses

Allison R. Kolbe, Eduardo Castro-Nallar, Diego Preciado, Marcos Pérez-Losada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Chronic otitis media with effusion (COME) is a common childhood disease characterized by an accumulation of fluid behind the eardrum. COME often requires surgical intervention and can also lead to significant hearing loss and subsequent learning disabilities. Recent characterization of the middle ear fluid (MEF) microbiome in pediatric patients has led to an improved understanding of the microbiota present in the middle ear during COME. However, it is not currently known how the MEF microbiome might vary due to other conditions, particularly respiratory disorders. Here, we apply an amplicon sequence variant (ASV) pipeline to MEF 16S rRNA high-throughput sequencing data from 50 children with COME (ages 3–176 months) undergoing tube placement. We achieve a more detailed taxonomic resolution than previously reported, including species and genus level resolution. Additionally, we provide the first report of the functional roles of the MEF microbiome and demonstrate that despite high taxonomic diversity, the functional capacity of the MEF microbiome remains uniform between patients. Furthermore, we analyze microbiome differences between children with COME with and without a history of lower airway disease (i.e., asthma or bronchiolitis). The MEF microbiome was less diverse in participants with lower airway disease than in patients without, and phylogenetic β-diversity (weighted UniFrac) was significantly different based on lower airway disease status. Differential abundance between patients with lower airway disease and those without was observed for the genera Haemophilus, Moraxella, Staphylococcus, Alloiococcus, and Turicella. These findings support previous suggestions of a link between COME and respiratory illnesses and emphasize the need for future study of the middle ear and respiratory tract microbiomes in diseases such as asthma and bronchiolitis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number339
JournalFrontiers in cellular and infection microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2019


  • amplicon sequence variants
  • asthma
  • bronchiolitis
  • middle ear microbiome
  • otitis media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Altered Middle Ear Microbiome in Children With Chronic Otitis Media With Effusion and Respiratory Illnesses'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this