Arsenic exposure from drinking water is associated with adverse respiratory outcomes, but it is unknown whether arsenic affects pulmonary microbiota.
Arsenic exposure from drinking water is associated with adverse respiratory outcomes, but it is unknown whether arsenic affects pulmonary microbiota. This exploratory study assessed the effect of exposure to arsenic in drinking water on bacterial diversity in the respiratory tract of non-smokers. Induced sputum was collected from 10 subjects with moderate mean household water arsenic concentration (21.1 ± 6.4 ppb) and 10 subjects with low household water arsenic (2.4 ± 0.8 ppb).
Jefferey Burgess, PhD
To assess microbiota in sputum, the V6 hypervariable region amplicons of bacterial 16s rRNA genes were sequenced using the Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine. Microbial community differences between arsenic exposure groups were evaluated using QIIME and Metastats. A total of 3,920,441 sequence reads, ranging from 37,935 to 508,787 per sample for 316 chips after QIIME quality filtering, were taxonomically classified into 142 individual genera and five phyla. Firmicutes (22%), Proteobacteria (17%) and Bacteriodetes (12%) were the main phyla in all samples, with Neisseriaceae (15%), Prevotellaceae (12%) and Veillonellacea (7%) being most common at the genus level. Some genera, including Gemella, Lactobacillales, Streptococcus, Neisseria and Pasteurellaceae were elevated in the moderate arsenic exposure group, while Rothia, Prevotella, Prevotellaceae Fusobacterium and Neisseriaceae were decreased, although none of these differences was statistically significant. Future studies with more participants and a greater range of arsenic exposure are needed to further elucidate the effects of drinking water arsenic consumption on respiratory microbiota.