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Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2017 Jun;7(6):561-569. doi: 10.1002/alr.21934. Epub 2017 May 8.

Mapping and comparing bacterial microbiota in the sinonasal cavity of healthy, allergic rhinitis, and chronic rhinosinusitis subjects.

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Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Phoenix, AZ.
Translational Genomics Research Institute, Flagstaff, AZ.
Pathogen and Microbiome Institute, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ.
Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ.
Division of Allergy, Asthma, and Clinical Immunology, Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Scottsdale, AZ.
Center for Individualized Medicine, Microbiome Program, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.



The role of microbiota in sinonasal inflammation can be further understood by targeted sampling of healthy and diseased subjects. We compared the microbiota of the middle meatus (MM) and inferior meatus (IM) in healthy, allergic rhinitis (AR), and chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) subjects to characterize intrasubject, intersubject, and intergroup differences.


Subjects were recruited in the office, and characterized into healthy, AR, and CRS groups. Endoscopically-guided swab samples were obtained from the MM and IM bilaterally. Bacterial microbiota were characterized by sequencing the V3-V4 region of the 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) gene.


Intersubject microbiome analyses were conducted in 65 subjects: 8 healthy, 11 AR, and 46 CRS (25 CRS with nasal polyps [CRSwNP]; 21 CRS without nasal polyps [CRSsNP]). Intrasubject analyses were conducted for 48 individuals (4 controls, 11 AR, 8 CRSwNP, and 15 CRSwNP). There was considerable intersubject microbiota variability, but intrasubject profiles were similar (p = 0.001, nonparametric t test). Intrasubject bacterial diversity was significantly reduced in MM of CRSsNP subjects compared to IM samples (p = 0.022, nonparametric t test). CRSsNP MM samples were enriched in Streptococcus, Haemophilus, and Fusobacterium spp. but exhibited loss of diversity compared to healthy, CRSwNP, and AR subject-samples (p < 0.05; nonparametric t test). CRSwNP patients were enriched in Staphylococcus, Alloiococcus, and Corynebacterium spp.


This study presents the sinonasal microbiome profile in one of the larger populations of non-CRS and CRS subjects, and is the first office-based cohort in the literature. In contrast to healthy, AR, and CRSwNP subjects, CRSsNP MM samples exhibited decreased microbiome diversity and anaerobic enrichment. CRSsNP MM samples had reduced diversity compared to same-subject IM samples, a novel finding.


allergic rhinitis; bacteriology; chronic rhinosinusitis; inferior meatus; microbioata; microbiome; middle meatus; nasal polyposis; regional sinonasal microbiota and rhinosinusitis

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