Culture-independent microbiota analysis is widely used in research and being increasingly used in translational studies. However, methods for standardisation and application of these analyses in clinical trials are limited. Here we report the microbiota analysis that accompanied two Phase 2b clinical trials of the novel, non-antibiotic therapy OligoG CF-5/20 for cystic fibrosis (CF) lung infection. Standardised protocols (DNA extraction, PCR, qPCR and 16S rRNA gene sequencing analysis) were developed for application to the Pseudomonas aeruginosa (NCT02157922) and Burkholderia cepacia complex (NCT02453789) clinical trials involving 45 and 13 adult trial participants, respectively. Microbiota analysis identified that paired sputum samples from an individual participant, taken within 2 h of each other, had reproducible bacterial diversity profiles. Although culture microbiology had identified patients as either colonised by P. aeruginosa or B. cepacia complex species at recruitment, microbiota analysis revealed patient lung infection communities were not always dominated by these key CF pathogens. Microbiota profiles were patient-specific and remained stable over the course of both clinical trials (6 sampling points over the course of 140 days). Within the Burkholderia trial, participants were infected with B. cenocepacia (n = 4), B. multivorans (n = 6), or an undetermined species (n = 3). Colonisation with either B. cenocepacia or B. multivorans influenced the overall bacterial community structure in sputum. Overall, we have shown that sputum microbiota in adults with CF is stable over a 2-h time-frame, suggesting collection of a single sample on a collection day is sufficient to capture the microbiota diversity. Despite the uniform pathogen culture-positivity status at recruitment, trial participants were highly heterogeneous in their lung microbiota. Understanding the microbiota profiles of individuals with CF ahead of future clinical trials would be beneficial in the context of patient stratification and trial design.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.