During critical illness, there are a multitude of forces such as antibiotic use, mechanical ventilation, diet changes and inflammatory responses that could bring the microbiome out of balance. This so-called dysbiosis of the microbiome seems to be involved in immunological responses and may influence outcomes even in individuals who are not as vulnerable as a critically ill ICU population. It is therefore probable that dysbiosis of the microbiome is a consequence of critical illness and may, subsequently, shape an inadequate response to these circumstances. Bronchoscopic studies have revealed that the carina represents the densest site of bacterial DNA along healthy airways, with a tapering density with further bifurcations. This likely reflects the influence of micro-aspiration as the primary route of microbial immigration in healthy adults. Though bacterial DNA density grows extremely sparse at smaller airways, bacterial signal is still consistently detectable in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, likely reflecting the fact that lavage via a wedged bronchoscope samples an enormous surface area of small airways and alveoli. The dogma of lung sterility also violated numerous observations that long predated culture-independent microbiology. The body's resident microbial consortia (gut and/or respiratory microbiota) affect normal host inflammatory and immune response mechanisms. Disruptions in these host-pathogen interactions have been associated with infection and altered innate immunity. In this narrative review, we will focus on the rationale and current evidence for a pathogenic role of the lung microbiome in the exacerbation of complications of critical illness, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome and ventilator-associated pneumonia.
- Ventilator-associated pneumonia
- Ventilator-associated tracheobronchitis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine