Understanding the impact of inhaled environmental exposures on the microbiota of the upper airways of African children

Professor Martin Antonio and Dr Brenda Kwambana-Adams won a competitive grant from The National Institutes of Health (NIH) under the H3 Africa Scheme.

The grant is to be use in understanding the impact of inhaled environmental exposures on the microbiota of the upper airways of African children.

Inhaled exposures, such as dust, environmental tobacco smoke, volatile compounds, particulate matter and microbial components modify the risk of developing respiratory tract illness in children, including asthma and lower respiratory tract infection. In the sub-Sahelian region of Africa, during the dry season, there are outbreaks of meningococcal disease, which are preceded by oropharyngeal colonization with Neisseria meningitidis.

The team studied the association between indoor air pollutants and the upper airway microbiota, including nasopharyngeal carriage of S. pneumoniae and oropharyngeal carriage of N. meningitidis. They also looked at the seasonal variation in inhaled exposures and the relationship with the Nasopharyngeal carriage.

Influence of inhaled environmental exposures on the nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal microbiota will contribute towards an improved understanding of risk factors that influence the upper airway microbiota.

As part of Brenda’s PhD and her LSHTM-West Africa Fellowship, she established a birth cohort in 27 villages in the Western Region of The Gambia where she studied the impact of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine on pneumococcal carriage and the bacterial component of the nasopharyngeal microbiome during infancy. This new grant will utilise the same cohort to understand the impact of inhaled environmental exposures on the microbiota of the upper airways of African children.