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    The International Society for Aerosols in Medicine

    Niki Ubags

    Niki Ubags

    Niki Ubags

    CHUV – Service de Pneumologie  
    Lausanne, Switzerland

    Dr. Ubags is a senior postdoctoral fellow within the Service de Pneumologie, CHUV in Lausanne (CH). She received her PhD from Maastricht University, NL (Obesity and pulmonary host defense) and has undertaken periods of research training within the University of Vermont to extend her knowledge on the effects of obesity on airway diseases. Her current research in the group of Professor Benjamin Marsland is focused on host-microbe interactions in the onset and progression of allergic diseases. Furthermore, Dr. Ubags has an interest in the effects of dietary intake on immune function and consequent development of respiratory diseases.


    The pulmonary immune system and its interaction with the microbiome


    With each breath the lung is exposed to an array of environmental pollutants, particulates, and both pathogenic and non-pathogenic microbes. Nevertheless, the airways have historically been regarded as a “sterile environment”. Over the past few years it has become evident that the lung harbours a diverse array of microbes whose dynamic composition is influenced by both host and environmental factors.

    The microbiome plays an essential and indispensable role in the education and maturation of the pulmonary immune system in early life. Colonisation of the lungs at this time is a highly dynamic process and can be influenced by external factors, thereby increasing the susceptibility for developing early onset lung disease. Moreover, lung microbial composition can be influenced by environmental exposures and lifestyle factors consequently resulting in an enhanced susceptibility to develop pulmonary disease in adulthood. These factors can also contribute to disease exacerbations and chronicity.

    Although there have been global efforts to assess the composition of the microbiome in both healthy and diseased lungs, these studies have been mainly descriptive in nature. Therefore, a priority should be to further focus on developing a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms underlying the observed alterations in lung microbial composition and their contribution to the pathogenesis of respiratory disease.