Responsiveness to pulmonary rehabilitation in COPD is associated with changes in microbiota

S. Melo-Dias, M. Cabral, A. Furtado, S. Souto-Miranda, M.A. Mendes, J. Cravo, C.R. Almeida, A. Marques, A. Sousa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BackgroundPulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) is one of the most cost-effective therapies for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) management. There are, however, people who do not respond to PR and reasons for non-response are mostly unknown. PR is likely to change the airway microbiota and this could play a role in its responsiveness. In this study we have explored the association between PR effectiveness and specific alterations in oral microbiota and inflammation.MethodsA prospective longitudinal study was conducted. Data on exercise capacity, dyspnoea, impact of disease and 418 saliva samples were collected from 76 patients, half of whom participated in a 12-weeks PR programme. Responders and non-responders to PR (dyspnoea, exercise-capacity and impact of disease) were defined based on minimal clinically important differences.ResultsChanges in microbiota, including Prevotella melaninogenica and Streptococcus were observed upon PR. Prevotella, previously found to be depleted in severe COPD, increased during the first month of PR in responders. This increase was negatively correlated with Streptococcus and Lautropia, known to be enriched in severe cases of COPD. Simultaneously, an anti-inflammatory commensal of the respiratory tract, Rothia, correlated strongly and negatively with several pro-inflammatory markers, whose levels were generally boosted by PR. Conversely, in non-responders, the observed decline in Prevotella correlated negatively with Streptococcus and Lautropia whose fluctuations co-occurred with several pro-inflammatory markers.ConclusionsPR is associated with changes in oral microbiota. Specifically, PR increases salivary Prevotella melaninogenica and avoids the decline in Rothia and the increase in Streptococcus and Lautropia in responders, which may contribute to the benefits of PR.
Original languageEnglish
Article number29
Number of pages14
JournalRespiratory Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2023


  • Oral microbiota
  • Inflammation
  • COPD
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Responsiveness


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