Comparative analysis of the vaginal microbiome of pregnant women with either Trichomonas vaginalis or Chlamydia trachomatis

Simon Chengo Masha, Collins Owuor, Joyce Mwongeli Ngoi, Piet Cools, Eduard J Sanders, Mario Vaneechoutte, Tania Crucitti, Etienne P de Villiers

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    Background: Although the significance of the human vaginal microbiome for health and disease is increasingly acknowledged, there is paucity of data on the differences in the composition of the vaginal microbiome upon infection with different sexually transmitted pathogens.

    Method: The composition of the vaginal bacterial community of women with Trichomonas vaginalis (TV, N = 18) was compared to that of women with Chlamydia trachomatis (CT, N = 14), and to that of controls (N = 21) (women negative for TV, CT and bacterial vaginosis). The vaginal bacterial composition was determined using high throughput sequencing with the Ion 16S metagenomics kit of the variable regions 2, 4 and 8 of the bacterial 16S ribosomal RNA gene from the vaginal swab DNA extract of the women. QIIME and R package "Phyloseq" were used to assess the α- and β-diversity and absolute abundance of the 16S rRNA gene per sample in the three groups. Differences in taxa at various levels were determined using the independent T-test.

    Results: A total of 545 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were identified in all the three groups of which 488 occurred in all three groups (core OTUs). Bacterial α-diversity, by both Simpson's and Shannon's indices, was significantly higher, (p = 0.056) and (p = 0.001) respectively, among women with either TV or CT than among controls (mean α-diversity TV-infected > CT-infected > Controls). At the genus level, women infected with TV had a significantly (p < 0.01) higher abundance of Parvimonas and Prevotella species compared to both controls and CT-infected women, whereas women infected with CT had a significantly (p < 0.05) higher abundance of Anaerococcus, Collinsella, Corynebacterium and Dialister.

    Conclusion: The vaginal microbiomes of TV and CT-infected women were markedly different from each other and from women without TV and CT. Future studies should determine whether the altered microbiomes are merely markers of disease, or whether they actively contribute to the pathology of the two genital infections.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0225545
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number12
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - 2019


    • Adolescent
    • Adult
    • Chlamydia Infections/immunology
    • Chlamydia trachomatis/genetics
    • DNA, Bacterial/isolation & purification
    • Female
    • Humans
    • Microbiota/genetics
    • Pregnancy
    • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious/immunology
    • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S/genetics
    • Trichomonas Vaginitis/immunology
    • Trichomonas vaginalis/genetics
    • Vagina/microbiology
    • Young Adult


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