Meta-Analysis of Publicly Available Clinical and Preclinical Microbiome Data From Studies of Burn Injury

Timothy S. Horseman, Andrew M. Frank, Jeffrey W. Shupp, David M. Burmeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Following burn injury, alterations in host commensal microbiota across body spaces may leave patients susceptible to opportunistic pathogens and serious sequelae such as sepsis. Generally, studies examining the microbiome postburn have had a limited sample size and lack of longitudinal data, which coupled with experimental and analytic variation, impacts overall interpretation. We performed a meta-analysis of publicly available sequencing data from preclinical and clinical burn studies to determine if there were consistent alterations in the microbiome across various anatomical sites and hosts. Ten human and animal 16S rRNA sequencing studies spanning respiratory, urinary, cutaneous, and gastrointestinal microbiomes were included. Taxonomic classification and alpha and beta diversity metrics were analyzed using QIIME2 v2021.8. Alpha diversity was consistently higher in control samples compared to burn-injured samples which were also different based on host and anatomical location; however, phylogenetic evaluation (ie, Faith PD) elucidated more significant differences compared to taxonomic metrics (ie, Shannon entropy). Beta diversity analysis based on weighted UniFrac showed that rodent specimens clustered less closely to humans than pig samples for both rectal and skin sources. Host species and performing institute were found to have a significant impact on community structure. In rectal samples, bacterial composition in pig and human burn samples included Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria, while rodent samples were dominated by Firmicutes. Proteobacteria and Firmicutes increased on burned skin in each host species. Our results suggest that host species and the performing institute strongly influence microbiome structure. Burn-induced alterations in microbiome diversity and taxa exist across hosts, with phylogenetic metrics more valuable than others. Coordinated, multicenter studies, both clinical and preclinical, within the burn community are needed to more completely realize the diagnostic and therapeutic potential of the microbiome for improving outcomes postburn.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-1050
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Burn Care and Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 7 Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


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