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mSphere. 2017 Mar 22;2(2). pii: e00006-17. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00006-17. eCollection 2017 Mar-Apr.

Next-Generation Sequencing Combined with Specific PCR Assays To Determine the Bacterial 16S rRNA Gene Profiles of Middle Ear Fluid Collected from Children with Acute Otitis Media.

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Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Tampere University Hospital and School of Medicine, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.
Department of Pediatrics, 2nd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague and University Hospital Motol, Prague, Czech Republic.
Department of Virology, School of Medicine, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.
Fimlab Laboratories, Tampere, Finland.
Department of Virology, School of Medicine, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland; Fimlab Laboratories, Tampere, Finland.


The aim of the study was to analyze the bacteriome of acute otitis media with a novel modification of next-generation sequencing techniques. Outpatient children with acute otitis media were enrolled in the study, and middle ear fluids were collected during 90 episodes from 79 subjects aged 5 to 42 months (median age, 19 months). The bacteriome profiles of middle ear fluid samples were determined by a nested-PCR amplification of the 16S rRNA gene (V4 region), followed by mass sequencing. The profiling results were compared to the results of specific PCR assays targeting selected prevalent pathogens. Bacteriome profiling using nested amplification of low-volume samples was aided by a bioinformatic subtraction of signal contaminants from the recombinant polymerase, achieving a sensitivity slightly lower than that of specific PCR detection. Streptococcus pneumoniae was detected in 28 (31%) samples, Haemophilus influenzae in 24 (27%), Moraxella catarrhalis in 18 (20%), Staphylococcus spp. in 21 (23%), Turicella otitidis in 5 (5.6%), Alloiococcus otitidis in 3 (3.3%), and other bacteria in 14 (16%) using bacteriome profiling. S. pneumoniae was the dominant pathogen in 14 (16%) samples, H. influenzae in 15 (17%), M. catarrhalis in 5 (5.6%), T. otitidis in 2, and Staphylococcus auricularis in 2. Weaker signals of Prevotella melaninogenica, Veillonella dispar, and Veillonella montpellierensis were noted in several samples. Fourteen samples (16%) were not explainable by bacterial pathogens; novel causative agents were not detected. In conclusion, unbiased bacteriome profiling helped in depicting the true mutual quantitative ratios of ear bacteria, but at present, its complicated protocol impedes its routine clinical use. IMPORTANCE Although S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae, and M. catarrhalis have been long established as the most important pathogens in acute otitis media using culture and specific PCR assays, the knowledge of their mutual quantitative relations and possible roles of other bacteria is incomplete. The advent of unbiased bacteriome 16S rRNA gene profiling has allowed the detection of nearly all bacteria present in the sample, and it helps in depicting their mutual quantitative ratios. Due to the difficulties in performing mass sequencing in low-volume samples, only a few bacteriome-profiling studies of otitis media have been published, all limited to cases of chronic otitis media. Here, we present a study on samples obtained from young children with acute otitis media, successfully using a strategy of nested PCR coupled with mass sequencing, and demonstrate that the method can confer quantitative information hardly obtainable by other methods.


16S profiling; acute otitis media; bacteriome profiling; mass sequencing; next-generation sequencing

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