Pet allergies are common in children with asthma. Microbiota and host responses may mediate allergen sensitization.
To uncover host-microbe relationships in pet allergen sensitization via joint examination of the nasal microbiome and nasal transcriptome.
We collected nasal samples from 132 children with asthma for parallel 16S rRNA and RNA sequencing. Specific IgE levels for cat and dog dander were measured. Analyses of the nasal microbiome, nasal transcriptome, and their correlations were performed with respect to pet sensitization status.
Among the 132 children, 91 (68.9%) were cat sensitized and 96 (72.7%) were dog sensitized. Cat sensitization was associated with lower nasal microbial diversity by Shannon Index (P=0.021) and differential nasal bacterial composition by weighted UniFrac distance (PERMANOVA P=0.035). Corynebacterium sp. and Staphylococcus epidermidis were significantly less abundant, and the metabolic process “fatty acid elongation in mitochondria” was lower in pet sensitized vs. unsensitized children. Correlation networks revealed that the nasal expression levels of 47 genes representing inflammatory processes were negatively correlated with the relative abundances of Corynebacterium sp. and Staphylococcus epidermidis. Thus, these species were not only directly associated with the absence of pet sensitization, but also with the under-expression of host gene expression of inflammatory processes that contribute to allergen sensitization. Causal mediation analyses revealed that the associations between these nasal species and pet sensitization were mediated by nasal gene expression.
Higher abundances of nasal Corynebacterium sp. and Staphylococcus epidermidis are associated with absence of pet sensitization and correlate with lower expression of inflammatory genes.