A study of the vaginal microbiome in healthy Canadian women utilizing cpn60-based molecular profiling reveals distinct Gardnerella subgroup community state types.

Albert, A.Y.K., Chaban, B.L., Wagner, E.C., Schellenberg, J.J., Links, M.G., van Schalkwyk, J., Reid, G., Hemmingsen, S.M., Hill, J.E., and Money, D. (2015). "A study of the vaginal microbiome in healthy Canadian women utilizing cpn60-based molecular profiling reveals distinct Gardnerella subgroup community state types.", PLoS ONE, 10(8: Article number e0135620), pp. 1-21. doi : 10.1371/journal.pone.0135620  Access to full text

Abstract

The vaginal microbiota is important in women’s reproductive and overall health. However, the relationships between the structure, function and dynamics of this complex microbial community and health outcomes remain elusive. The objective of this study was to determine the phylogenetic range and abundance of prokaryotes in the vaginal microbiota of healthy, non-pregnant, ethnically diverse, reproductive-aged Canadian women. Socio-demographic, behavioural and clinical data were collected and vaginal swabs were analyzed from 310 women. Detailed profiles of their vaginal microbiomes were generated by pyrosequencing of the chaperonin-60 universal target. Six community state types (CST) were delineated by hierarchical clustering, including three Lactobacillus-dominated CST (L. crispatus, L. iners, L. jensenii), two Gardnerella-dominated (subgroups A and C) and an “intermediate” CST which included a small number of women with microbiomes dominated by seven other species or with no dominant species but minority populations of Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, Peptoniphilus, E. coli and various Proteobacteria in co-dominant communities. The striking correspondence between Nugent score and deep sequencing CST continues to reinforce the basic premise provided by the simpler Gram stain method, while additional analyses reveal detailed cpn60-based phylogeny and estimated abundance in microbial communities from vaginal samples. Ethnicity was the only demographic or clinical characteristic predicting CST, with differences in Asian and White women (p = 0.05). In conclusion, this study confirms previous work describing four cpn60-based subgroups of Gardnerella, revealing previously undescribed CST. The data describe the range of bacterial communities seen in Canadian women presenting with no specific vaginal health concerns, and provides an important baseline for future investigations of clinically important cohorts.

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