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Previous studies have suggested that the pneumococcal niche changes from the nasopharynx to the oral cavity with age. We use an Experimental Human Pneumococcal Challenge model to investigate pneumococcal colonisation in different anatomical niches with age. Healthy adults (n = 112) were intranasally inoculated with Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 6B (Spn6B) and were categorised as young 18-55 years (n = 57) or older > 55 years (n = 55). Colonisation status (frequency and density) was determined by multiplex qPCR targeting the lytA and cpsA-6A/B genes in both raw and culture-enriched nasal wash and oropharyngeal swab samples collected at 2-, 7- and 14-days post-exposure. For older adults, raw and culture-enriched saliva samples were also assessed. 64% of NW samples and 54% of OPS samples were positive for Spn6B in young adults, compared to 35% of NW samples, 24% of OPS samples and 6% of saliva samples in older adults. Many colonisation events were only detected in culture-enriched samples. Experimental colonisation was detected in 72% of young adults by NW and 63% by OPS. In older adults, this was 51% by NW, 36% by OPS and 9% by saliva. The nose, as assessed by nasal wash, is the best niche for detection of experimental pneumococcal colonisation in both young and older adults.

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Journal article


Sci Rep

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Adolescent, Adult, Age Factors, Aged, DNA, Bacterial, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction, Nasal Lavage Fluid, Nose, Pneumococcal Infections, Saliva, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Young Adult