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Microbiome profile associated with malignant pleural effusion



There is ongoing research into the development of novel molecular markers that may complement fluid cytology malignant pleural effusion (MPE) diagnosis. In this exploratory pilot study, we hypothesized that there are distinct differences in the pleural fluid microbiome profile of malignant and non-malignant pleural diseases.


From a prospectively enrolled pleural fluid biorepository, samples of MPE were included. Non-MPE effusion were included as comparators. 16S rRNA gene V4 region amplicon sequencing was performed. Exact Sequence Variants (ESVs) were used for diversity analyses. The Shannon and Richness indices of alpha diversity and UniFrac beta diversity measures were tested for significance using permutational multivariate analysis of variance. Analyses of Composition of Microbiome was used to identify differentially abundant bacterial ESVs between the groups controlled for multiple hypothesis testing.


38 patients with MPE and 9 with non-MPE were included. A subgroup of patients with metastatic adenocarcinoma histology were identified among MPE group (adenocarcinoma of lung origin (LA-MPE) = 11, breast origin (BA-MPE) = 11). MPE presented with significantly greater alpha diversity compared to non-MPE group. Within the MPE group, BA-MPE was more diverse compared to LA-MPE group. In multivariable analysis, ESVs belonging to family S24-7 and genera Allobaculum, Stenotrophomonas, and Epulopiscium were significantly enriched in the malignant group compared to the non-malignant group.


Our results are the first to demonstrate a microbiome signature according to MPE and non-MPE. The role of microbiome in pleural effusion pathogenesis needs further exploration.

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