Lung virome: New potential biomarkers for asthma severity and exacerbation

Sungmi Choi, Kyoung Hee Sohn, Jae Woo Jung, Min Gyu Kang, Min Suk Yang, Sujeong Kim, Jeong Hee Choi, Sang Heon Cho, Hye Ryun Kang, Hana Yi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although some respiratory virus infections are known to contribute to the development and exacerbation of asthma, commensal viromes in airway have not been extensively studied due to technical challenges. Objectives: This study investigated the characteristics of the virome in asthmatic airways. Methods: Both the bacteriome and virome profiles in sputum from 12 healthy individuals, 15 patients with nonsevere asthma, and 15 patients with severe asthma were analyzed and assessed for the association with clinical characteristics such as severity, exacerbation, Asthma Control Test (ACT), and lung function. Results: While analysis of the 16S ribosomal RNA bacteriome in the airway showed no differences, clear contrasts in the diversity and composition of airway viromes were observed between healthy controls and patients with asthma. Herpesviruses were the most abundant type of virus in the asthma group (44.6 ± 4.6%), mainly with cytomegalovirus (CMV) and EBV accounting for 24.5 ± 3.3% and 16.9 ± 3.5%, respectively, in contrast to those in the healthy controls (5.4 ± 2.5% and 7.1 ± 3.0%, respectively). CMV and EBV were more abundant in patients with asthma who experienced exacerbation, and their abundance showed correlation with more severe asthma, lower ACT score, and lower lung function. On the contrary, bacteriophage that is abundant in healthy controls was severely reduced in patients with asthma in the order of nonsevere and severe asthma and presented significant positive correlation with ACT and FEV1/forced vital capacity. Conclusions: Lung viromes, especially, CMV, EBV, and bacteriophage may be potential biomarkers of asthma severity and exacerbation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1015.e9
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a fund ( 2016ER670400 and 2017ER670100 ) from the Research of Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology


  • Asthma
  • CMV
  • EBV
  • herpesvirus
  • metagenomics
  • microbiome
  • virome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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