Gut microbiome influences lung disease, research finds

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New research led by the Centenary Institute, the University of Technology Sydney, and the University of Queensland found a link between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an often fatal lung condition, and the gut microbiome, according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.

For the study, the researchers compared the microbiome and metabolite profiles of stool samples from COPD patients with healthy individuals. They found COPD patients exhibited increased levels of the bacteria Streptococcus and Lachnospiraceae in their stool samples. The researchers also identified a unique metabolite signature in individuals with COPD, formed by the chemical by-products of the metabolic process.

The findings suggest that the gut may be helpful in diagnosing COPD and may also be a potential source of new therapeutic targets to help treat the chronic respiratory disorder, the researchers said. The study's researchers believe that the altered gut microbiome found in COPD patients could also support the gut as a potential target for new treatments.

"The gut-lung axis describes the common immune system of the lung and gastrointestinal tract,” said Phil Hansbro, PhD, senior author of the study and director of the Centenary UTS Centre for Inflammation, in a statement. “This means that activity in the gut can impact activity in the lung. Our COPD findings suggest that the gut microbiome should now also be considered when looking for new therapeutic targets to help treat lung disease.”