Microbial predictors of healing and short-term effect of debridement on the microbiome of chronic wounds
Chronic wounds represent a large and growing disease burden. Infection and biofilm formation are two of the leading impediments of wound healing, suggesting an important role for the microbiome of these wounds. Debridement is a common and effective treatment for chronic wounds. We analyzed the bacterial content of the wound surface from 20 outpatients with chronic wounds before and immediately after debridement, as well as healthy skin. Given the large variation observed among different wounds, we introduce a Bayesian statistical method that models patient-to-patient variability and identify several genera that were significantly enriched in wounds vs. healthy skin. We found no difference between the microbiome of the original wound surface and that exposed by a single episode of sharp debridement, suggesting that this debridement did not directly alter the wound microbiome. However, we found that aerobes and especially facultative anaerobes were significantly associated with wounds that did not heal within 6 months. The facultative anaerobic genus Enterobacter was significantly associated with lack of healing. The results suggest that an abundance of facultative anaerobes is a negative prognostic factor in the chronic wound microbiome, possibly due to the increased robustness of such communities to different metabolic environments.