July 14 (UPI) -- Researchers have found that the microbiome in the lungs of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, are similar to healthy individuals.
The study, by Helmholt Zentrum Munchen, the German Research Center for Environmental Health, analyzed data from 16 patients with COPD and nine healthy controls who participated in a European population study.
The study was published in PLOS ONE.
Researchers used CT scans to examine the lungs and assign the respective COPD subtypes, and used brush samples to determine the composition of the lung microbiome by using certain genetic markers.
"This allowed us to show that the composition of the bacterial community in the lungs of COPD patients without structural changes is very similar to that of healthy subjects," Dr. Marion Engel, a scientist in the Complex Systems Research Group in the Research Unit Scientific Computing, said in a press release.
"On the other hand, the bacterial composition in the lungs of ill subjects with structural changes differ significantly from those of the other two groups, regardless of the severity of the disease."
Research showed that Streptococci are found in structurally altered lungs, which includes pathogens that are also found in the progression of symptoms in COPD.
There was an increase in Prevotella in the lungs of healthy patients, together the findings show that in certain subtypes of COPD changes occur in bacterial communities in the lungs to promote the increase of pathogenic bacteria.
These findings may help doctors determine whether antibiotics or glucocorticoids should be given based on the COPD subtype of a patient.