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The Human Microbiome and Understanding the 16S rRNA Gene in Translational Nursing Science

Ames, Nancy J.; Ranucci, Alexandra; Moriyama, Brad; Wallen, Gwenyth R.

doi: 10.1097/NNR.0000000000000212
Review

Background: As more is understood regarding the human microbiome, it is increasingly important for nurse scientists and healthcare practitioners to analyze these microbial communities and their role in health and disease. 16S rRNA sequencing is a key methodology in identifying these bacterial populations that has recently transitioned from use primarily in research to having increased utility in clinical settings.

Objectives: The objectives of this review are to (a) describe 16S rRNA sequencing and its role in answering research questions important to nursing science; (b) provide an overview of the oral, lung, and gut microbiomes and relevant research; and (c) identify future implications for microbiome research and 16S sequencing in translational nursing science.

Discussion: Sequencing using the 16S rRNA gene has revolutionized research and allowed scientists to easily and reliably characterize complex bacterial communities. This type of research has recently entered the clinical setting, one of the best examples involving the use of 16S sequencing to identify resistant pathogens, thereby improving the accuracy of bacterial identification in infection control. Clinical microbiota research and related requisite methods are of particular relevance to nurse scientists—individuals uniquely positioned to utilize these techniques in future studies in clinical settings.

Nancy J. Ames, RN, PhD, is Clinical Nurse Scientist, Nursing Department, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, Maryland.

Alexandra Ranucci, BS, is MD/MPH Candidate, Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana. She was a Post-Baccalaureate Intramural Research Award Recipient, Nursing Department, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, at the time this paper was prepared.

Brad Moriyama, PharmD, is Clinical Pharmacist, Pharmacy Department, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, Maryland.

Gwenyth R. Wallen, RN, PhD, is Chief Nurse Officer (Acting), Nursing Department, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Bethesda, Maryland.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s web site (www.nursingresearchonline.com).

In the public domain.

Accepted for publication August 22, 2016.

The authors acknowledge that this work was supported by the Clinical Center Nursing Department, National Institutes for Health.

The authors thank CDR Leslie Wehrlen, RN, MS, OCN, USPHS, for her development of Supplemental Digital Content #2, http://links.lww.com/NRES/A240. The authors also thank Sarah Mudra, BS, BA, Post-Baccalaureate Intramural Research Award Recipient, for manuscript revisions and editing.

Editorial Note: Dr. Jacquelyn Taylor was Action Editor for this paper.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to report.

Corresponding Author: Dr. Nancy J. Ames, Rn, PhD, National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, Nursing Department, Building 10, Room 2B10, 10 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (e-mail: names@nih.gov).

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