Sputum microbiome and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in a rural Ugandan cohort of well-controlled HIV infection


  • A. Kayongo
  • T.U.P. Bartolomaeus
  • T. Birkner
  • L. Markó
  • U. Löber
  • E. Kigozi
  • C. Atugonza
  • R. Munana
  • D. Mawanda
  • R. Sekibira
  • E. Uwimaana
  • P. Alupo
  • R. Kalyesubula
  • F. Knauf
  • T. Siddharthan
  • B.S. Bagaya
  • D.P. Kateete
  • M.L. Joloba
  • N.K. Sewankambo
  • D. Jjingo
  • B. Kirenga
  • W. Checkley
  • S.K. Forslund


  • Microbiology Spectrum


  • Microbiol Spectr e0213921


  • Sub-Saharan Africa has increased morbidity and mortality related to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD among people living with HIV (PLWH) has not been well studied in this region, where HIV/AIDS is endemic. Increasing evidence suggests that respiratory microbial composition plays a role in COPD severity. Therefore, we aimed to investigate microbiome patterns and associations among PLWH with COPD in Sub-Saharan Africa. We conducted a cross-sectional study of 200 adults stratified by HIV and COPD in rural Uganda. Induced sputum samples were collected as an easy-to-obtain proxy for the lower respiratory tract microbiota. We performed 16S rRNA gene sequencing and used PICRUSt2 (version 2.2.3) to infer the functional profiles of the microbial community. We used a statistical tool to detect changes in specific taxa that searches and adjusts for confounding factors such as antiretroviral therapy (ART), age, sex, and other participant characteristics. We could cluster the microbial community into three community types whose distribution was shown to be significantly impacted by HIV. Some genera, e.g., Veillonella, Actinomyces, Atopobium, and Filifactor, were significantly enriched in HIV-infected individuals, while the COPD status was significantly associated with Gammaproteobacteria and Selenomonas abundance. Furthermore, reduced bacterial richness and significant enrichment in Campylobacter were associated with HIV-COPD comorbidity. Functional prediction using PICRUSt2 revealed a significant depletion in glutamate degradation capacity pathways in HIV-positive patients. A comparison of our findings with an HIV cohort from the United Kingdom revealed significant differences in the sputum microbiome composition, irrespective of viral suppression. IMPORTANCE: Even with ART available, HIV-infected individuals are at high risk of suffering comorbidities, as shown by the high prevalence of noninfectious lung diseases in the HIV population. Recent studies have suggested a role for the respiratory microbiota in driving chronic lung inflammation. The respiratory microbiota was significantly altered among PLWH, with disease persisting up to 3 years post-ART initiation and HIV suppression. The community structure and diversity of the sputum microbiota in COPD are associated with disease severity and clinical outcomes, both in stable COPD and during exacerbations. Therefore, a better understanding of the sputum microbiome among PLWH could improve COPD prognostic and risk stratification strategies. In this study, we observed that in a virologically suppressed HIV cohort in rural Uganda, we could show differences in sputum microbiota stratified by HIV and COPD, reduced bacterial richness, and significant enrichment in Campylobacter associated with HIV-COPD comorbidity.