The microbiome has increasingly been linked to cancer. Little is known about the lung and oral cavity microbiomes in smokers, and even less for electronic cigarette (EC) users, compared with never-smokers. In a cross-sectional study (n = 28) of smokers, EC users, and never-smokers, bronchoalveolar lavage and saliva samples underwent metatranscriptome profiling to examine associations with lung and oral microbiomes. Pairwise comparisons assessed differentially abundant bacteria species. Total bacterial load was similar between groups, with no differences in bacterial diversity across lung microbiomes. In lungs, 44 bacteria species differed significantly (FDR < 0.1) between smokers/never-smokers, with most decreased in smokers. Twelve species differed between smokers/EC users, all decreased in smokers of which Neisseria sp. KEM232 and Curvibacter sp. AEP1-3 were observed. Among the top five decreased species in both comparisons, Neisseria elongata, Neisseria sicca, and Haemophilus parainfluenzae were observed. In the oral microbiome, 152 species were differentially abundant for smokers/never-smokers, and 17 between smokers/electronic cigarette users, but only 21 species were differentially abundant in both the lung and oral cavity. EC use is not associated with changes in the lung microbiome compared with never-smokers, indicating EC toxicity does not affect microbiota. Statistically different bacteria in smokers compared with EC users and never-smokers were almost all decreased, potentially due to toxic effects of cigarette smoke. The low numbers of overlapping oral and lung microbes suggest that the oral microbiome is not a surrogate for analyzing smoking-related effects in the lung.
The microbiome affects cancer and other disease risk. The effects of e-cig usage on the lung microbiome are essentially unknown. Given the importance of lung microbiome dysbiosis populated by oral species which have been observed to drive lung cancer progression, it is important to study effects of e-cig use on microbiome.