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Lancet Respir Med. 2014 Mar;2(3):238-46. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(14)70028-1.

Towards an ecology of the lung: new conceptual models of pulmonary microbiology and pneumonia pathogenesis.

Author information

1
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Electronic address: rodickso@med.umich.edu.
2
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
3
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan MI, USA.

Abstract

Pneumonia is a major cause of morbidity and mortality for which no new methods of treatment have entered clinical practice since the discovery of antibiotics. Innovations in the techniques of culture-independent microbial identification have shown that the lungs, previously deemed sterile in the absence of infection, contain diverse and dynamic communities of microbes. In this Personal View, we argue that these observations have shown the inadequacy of traditional conceptual models of lung microbiology and the pathogenesis of pneumonia, hampering progress in research and practice. We propose three new conceptual models to replace the traditional models of lung microbiology: an adapted island model of lung biogeography, the effect of environmental gradients on lung microbiota, and pneumonia as an emergent phenomenon propelled by unexplored positive feedback loops. We argue that the ecosystem of lung microbiota has all of the features of a complex adaptive system: diverse entities interacting with each other within a common space, showing interdependent actions and possessing the capacity to adapt to changes in conditions. Complex adaptive systems are fundamentally different in behaviour from the simple, linear systems typified by the traditional model of pneumonia pathogenesis, and need distinct analytical approaches.

PMID:
24621685
PMCID:
PMC4004084
DOI:
10.1016/S2213-2600(14)70028-1
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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