Sputum bacterial load and bacterial composition correlate with lung function and are altered by long-term azithromycin treatment in children with HIV-associated chronic lung disease

Breathe Study Team, Regina E Abotsi, Felix S Dube, Andrea M Rehman, Shantelle Claassen-Weitz, Yao Xia, Victoria Simms, Kilaza S Mwaikono, Sugnet Gardner-Lubbe, Grace McHugh, Lucky G Ngwira, Brenda Kwambana-Adams, Robert S Heyderman, Jon Ø Odland, Rashida A Ferrand, Mark P Nicol

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2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Long-term azithromycin (AZM) treatment reduces the frequency of acute respiratory exacerbation in children and adolescents with HIV-associated chronic lung disease (HCLD). However, the impact of this treatment on the respiratory bacteriome is unknown.

METHOD: African children with HCLD (defined as forced expiratory volume in 1 s z-score (FEV1z) less than - 1.0 with no reversibility) were enrolled in a placebo-controlled trial of once-weekly AZM given for 48-weeks (BREATHE trial). Sputum samples were collected at baseline, 48 weeks (end of treatment) and 72 weeks (6 months post-intervention in participants who reached this timepoint before trial conclusion). Sputum bacterial load and bacteriome profiles were determined using 16S rRNA gene qPCR and V4 region amplicon sequencing, respectively. The primary outcomes were within-participant and within-arm (AZM vs placebo) changes in the sputum bacteriome measured across baseline, 48 weeks and 72 weeks. Associations between clinical or socio-demographic factors and bacteriome profiles were also assessed using linear regression.

RESULTS: In total, 347 participants (median age: 15.3 years, interquartile range [12.7-17.7]) were enrolled and randomised to AZM (173) or placebo (174). After 48 weeks, participants in the AZM arm had reduced sputum bacterial load vs placebo arm (16S rRNA copies/µl in log 10, mean difference and 95% confidence interval [CI] of AZM vs placebo - 0.54 [- 0.71; - 0.36]). Shannon alpha diversity remained stable in the AZM arm but declined in the placebo arm between baseline and 48 weeks (3.03 vs. 2.80, p = 0.04, Wilcoxon paired test). Bacterial community structure changed in the AZM arm at 48 weeks compared with baseline (PERMANOVA test p = 0.003) but resolved at 72 weeks. The relative abundances of genera previously associated with HCLD decreased in the AZM arm at 48 weeks compared with baseline, including Haemophilus (17.9% vs. 25.8%, p 
CONCLUSIONS: AZM treatment preserved sputum bacterial diversity and reduced the relative abundances of the HCLD-associated genera Haemophilus and Moraxella. These bacteriological effects were associated with improvement in lung function and may account for reduced respiratory exacerbations associated with AZM treatment of children with HCLD. Video Abstract.
Original languageEnglish
Article number29
Number of pages20
JournalMicrobiome
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2023

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