Temporal instability of the post-surgical maxillary sinus microbiota

Ioannis Koutsourelakis, Ashleigh Halderman, Syed Khalil, Lauren E. Hittle, Emmanuel F. Mongodin, Andrew P. Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Chronic rhinosinusitis is an inflammatory disorder in which the role of bacteria remains uncertain. While sinus outflow obstruction is often an initiating event, mucosal inflammation and dysbiosis may persist or develop in sinuses with widely patent surgical openings. Understanding of the relationship between dysbiosis and chronic sinus inflammation is obfuscated by inter-individual microbiota variability and likely intra-individual temporal variation that has yet to be defined. In this study, long-term microbiota stability is investigated within surgically-opened maxillary sinuses of individuals with and without sinus inflammatory disease. Methods: Maxillary sinus swabs were performed in 35 subjects with longstanding maxillary antrostomies. Subjects with and without active chronic maxillary sinusitis were included. Repeat swabs were obtained from the same sinuses after a prolonged interval (mean 719±383days). Patients were categorized based on the inflammatory status of the sinus mucosa at times of sample collection, as assessed by nasal endoscopy. Total DNA from swab eluents was extracted, and the microbiota characterized using 16S rRNA gene sequencing followed by taxonomic classification. Prevalence and abundance of genera were determined by analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences. Taxa were identified that were stably present between two time points in individual subjects. Results: The overall proportion of stable taxa across time points was 24.5±10.6%. This stability index was consistent across patient groups and not correlated with clinical parameters. Highly prevalent taxa, including Staphylococcus, Corynebacterium, Propionibacterium, and Pseudomonas, were often stably present, but varied in relative abundance. Janthinobacterium, Enterobacter, Lactobacillus, and Acinetobacter were prevalent and moderately abundant taxa in healthy sinuses, but not in inflamed sinuses. Moraxella and Haemophilus were present at low prevalence and proportional abundance in chronically or intermittently inflamed sinuses, but not in healthy sinuses. Conclusions: A relatively small component of the post-antrostomy maxillary sinus microbiota exhibits long-term stability in individual subjects. Stable bacteria include a limited number of highly prevalent and a larger number of lower prevalence taxa, which vary widely in proportional abundance. The concept of individual-specific core sinus microbiota, durable over time and medical therapy, but fluctuating in proportional abundance, has implications for understanding the role of bacteria in CRS pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number441
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 30 2018


  • Post-antrostomy sinus
  • Stability index
  • Staphylococcus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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