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Concept: Bacterial vaginosis


Cervicovaginal mucus (CVM) can provide a barrier that precludes HIV and other sexually transmitted virions from reaching target cells in the vaginal epithelium, thereby preventing or reducing infections. However, the barrier properties of CVM differ from woman to woman, and the causes of these variations are not yet well understood. Using high-resolution particle tracking of fluorescent HIV-1 pseudoviruses, we found that neither pH nor Nugent scores nor total lactic acid levels correlated significantly with virus trapping in unmodified CVM from diverse donors. Surprisingly, HIV-1 was generally trapped in CVM with relatively high concentrations of d-lactic acid and a Lactobacillus crispatus-dominant microbiota. In contrast, a substantial fraction of HIV-1 virions diffused rapidly through CVM with low concentrations of d-lactic acid that had a Lactobacillus iners-dominant microbiota or significant amounts of Gardnerella vaginalis, a bacterium associated with bacterial vaginosis. Our results demonstrate that the vaginal microbiota, including specific species of Lactobacillus, can alter the diffusional barrier properties of CVM against HIV and likely other sexually transmitted viruses and that these microbiota-associated changes may account in part for the elevated risks of HIV acquisition linked to bacterial vaginosis or intermediate vaginal microbiota.

Concepts: Bacteria, Metabolism, Virus, Genome, Lactic acid, Sexually transmitted diseases and infections, Bacterial vaginosis, Gardnerella vaginalis


Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal infection, causing an abnormal vaginal discharge and/or odour in up to 50% of sufferers. Recurrence is common following recommended treatment. There are limited data on women’s experience of bacterial vaginosis, and the impact on their self-esteem, sexual relationships and quality of life. The aim of this study was to explore the experiences and impact of recurrent bacterial vaginosis on women.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Philosophy of science, Gynecology, Vagina, Candidiasis, Bacterial vaginosis, Human flora, Vaginitis


OBJECTIVE: To discuss the epidemiology of Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) and HIV co-infections, the role of TV in acquisition and transmission of HIV, special treatment considerations for TV among women with HIV and the prevention of TV among HIV-infected persons. DESIGN: Systematic review. DATA SOURCE: Review of literature of EMBASE and PubMed databases from January 1990 to February 2013. Search keywords included TV, HIV co-infections, HIV acquisition, HIV transmission, HIV shedding, TV treatment, HIV and couples studies. REVIEW METHOD: We included studies of any design that contained the selected search words and were published during the specified time frame. We then searched the reference lists of included papers for additional papers and included these when relevant. RESULTS: There is strong evidence that TV increases both transmission and acquisition of HIV among women, and that successful treatment for TV can reduce HIV genital shedding. Single dose metronidazole (MTZ) should no longer be used for HIV+ women with TV given the high rates of asymptomatic bacterial vaginosis co-infections and other factors that may render MTZ less effective in HIV+ women. Prevention of TV among HIV+ persons is similar to among HIV, including promotion of condoms as well as regular screening and prompt treatment. There may be a role for expedited partner treatment for the prevention of repeat infections, but most repeat infections are clinical treatment failures. Diligence in screening and treating TV among both HIV- susceptible and HIV+ persons is an important public health strategy.

Concepts: HIV, Public health, Epidemiology, Metronidazole, Candidiasis, Sexually transmitted diseases and infections, Trichomonas vaginalis, Bacterial vaginosis


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a polymicrobial imbalance of the vaginal microbiota associated with reproductive infections, preterm birth, and other adverse health outcomes. Sialidase activity in vaginal fluids is diagnostic of BV and sialic acid-rich components of mucus have protective and immunological roles. However, while mucus degradation is believed to be important in the etiology and complications associated with BV, the role(s) of sialidases and the participation of individual bacterial species in the degradation of mucus barriers in BV have not been investigated. Here we demonstrate that the BV-associated bacterium Gardnerella vaginalis uses sialidase to break down and deplete sialic-acid-containing mucus components in the vagina. Biochemical evidence using purified sialoglycan substrates supports a model in which 1) G. vaginalis extracellular sialidase hydrolyzes mucosal sialoglycans, 2) liberated sialic acid (N-acetylneuraminic acid) is transported into the bacterium, a process inhibited by excess N-glycolylneuraminic acid, and 3) sialic acid catabolism is initiated by an intracellular aldolase/lyase mechanism. G. vaginalis engaged in sialoglycan foraging in vitro, in the presence of human vaginal mucus, and in vivo, in a murine vaginal model, in each case leading to depletion of sialic acids. Comparison of sialic acid levels in human vaginal specimens also demonstrated significant depletion of mucus sialic acids in women with BV compared to women with a normal lactobacilli-dominated microbiota. Taken together, these studies show that G. vaginalis utilizes sialidase to support the degradation, foraging, and depletion of protective host mucus barriers, and that this process of mucus barrier degradation and depletion also occurs in the clinical setting of BV.

Concepts: Childbirth, Bacteria, Cervix, Lactic acid, Vagina, Bacterial vaginosis, Gardnerella vaginalis, Clue cell


BACKGROUND: The female genital tract is an important bacterial habitat of the human body, and vaginal microbiota plays a crucial role in vaginal health. The alteration of vaginal microbiota affects millions of women annually, and is associated with numerous adverse health outcomes, including human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. However, previous studies have primarily focused on the association between bacterial vaginosis and HPV infection. Little is known about the composition of vaginal microbial communities involved in HPV acquisition. The present study was performed to investigate whether HPV infection was associated with the diversity and composition of vaginal microbiota. METHODS: A total of 70 healthy women (32 HPV-negative and 38 HPV-positive) with normal cervical cytology were enrolled in this study. Culture-independent polymerase chain reaction-denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis was used to measure the diversity and composition of vaginal microbiota of all subjects. RESULTS: We found significantly greater biological diversity in the vaginal microbiota of HPV-positive women (p < 0.001). Lactobacillus, including L. gallinarum, L. iners and L. gasseri, was the predominant genus and was detected in all women. No significant difference between HPV-positive and HPV-negative women was found for the frequency of detection of L. gallinarum (p = 0.775) or L. iners (p = 0.717), but L. gasseri was found at a significantly higher frequency in HPV-positive women (p = 0.005). Gardnerella vaginalis was also found at a significantly higher frequency in HPV-positive women (p = 0.031). Dendrograms revealed that vaginal microbiota from the two groups had different profiles. CONCLUSIONS: Our study is the first systematic evaluation of an association between vaginal microbiota and HPV infection, and we have demonstrated that compared with HPV-negative women, the bacterial diversity of HPV-positive women is more complex and the composition of vaginal microbiota is different.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Human papillomavirus, Cervical cancer, Papillomavirus, Bacterial vaginosis, Genital wart, Gardnerella vaginalis


Microbial communities are important to human health. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a disease associated with the vagina microbiome. While the causes of BV are unknown, the microbial community in the vagina appears to play a role. We use three different machine-learning techniques to classify microbial communities into BV categories. These three techniques include genetic programming (GP), random forests (RF), and logistic regression (LR). We evaluate the classification accuracy of each of these techniques on two different datasets. We then deconstruct the classification models to identify important features of the microbial community. We found that the classification models produced by the machine learning techniques obtained accuracies above 90% for Nugent score BV and above 80% for Amsel criteria BV. While the classification models identify largely different sets of important features, the shared features often agree with past research.

Concepts: Genetics, Archaea, Microbiology, Machine learning, Vagina, Candidiasis, Bacterial vaginosis, Human flora


Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is one of the most prevalent vaginal infectious diseases, and there are controversial reports regarding the diversity of the associated vaginal microbiota. We determined the vaginal microbial community in patients with VVC, bacterial vaginosis (BV), and mixed infection of VVC and BV using Illumina sequencing of 16S rRNA tags. Our results revealed for the first time the highly variable patterns of the vaginal microbiome from VVC patients. In general, the alpha-diversity results of species richness and evenness showed the following order: normal control < VVC only < mixed BV and VVC infection < BV only. The beta-diversity comparison of community structures also showed an intermediate composition of VVC between the control and BV samples. A detailed comparison showed that, although the control and BV communities had typical patterns, the vaginal microbiota of VVC is complex. The mixed BV and VVC infection group showed a unique pattern, with a relatively higher abundance of Lactobacillus than the BV group and higher abundance of Prevotella, Gardnerella, and Atopobium than the normal control. In contrast, the VVC-only group could not be described by any single profile, ranging from a community structure similar to the normal control (predominated with Lactobacillus) to BV-like community structures (abundant with Gardnerella and Atopobium). Treatment of VVC resulted in inconsistent changes of the vaginal microbiota, with four BV/VVC samples recovering to a higher Lactobacillus level, whereas many VVC-only patients did not. These results will be useful for future studies on the role of vaginal microbiota in VVC and related infectious diseases.

Concepts: Disease, Infectious disease, Bacteria, Microbiology, Infection, Vagina, Candidiasis, Bacterial vaginosis


Desquamative inflammatory vaginitis is a poorly understood chronic vaginitis with an unknown etiology. Symptoms of desquamative inflammatory vaginitis include copious yellowish discharge, vulvovaginal discomfort, and dyspareunia. Cervical ectropion, the presence of glandular columnar cells on the ectocervix, has not been reported as a cause of desquamative inflammatory vaginitis. Although cervical ectropion can be a normal clinical finding, it has been reported to cause leukorrhea, metrorrhagia, dyspareunia, and vulvovaginal irritation. Patients with cervical ectropion and desquamative inflammatory vaginitis are frequently misdiagnosed with candidiasis or bacterial vaginosis and repeatedly treated without resolution of symptoms. We report the case of a 34-year-old woman with a 4-year history of profuse yellowish discharge and dyspareunia. Upon presentation, her symptoms and laboratory results met the criteria for desquamative inflammatory vaginitis, but the standard treatments did not provide long-lasting relief. As a last resort, cryotherapy (cryosurgery) of her cervix was performed for treatment of her cervical ectropion, which provided complete resolution of her symptoms. Mitchell L, King M, Brillhart H, Goldstein A. Cervical Ectropion May Be a Cause of Desquamative Inflammatory Vaginitis. Sex Med 2017;X:XX-XX.

Concepts: Epithelium, Gynecology, Cervix, Vagina, Candidiasis, Bacterial vaginosis, Human flora, Vaginitis


Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) practices vary worldwide and depend on the individual’s socioeconomic status, personal preferences, local traditions and beliefs, and access to water and sanitation resources. MHM practices can be particularly unhygienic and inconvenient for girls and women in poorer settings. Little is known about whether unhygienic MHM practices increase a woman’s exposure to urogenital infections, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV) and urinary tract infection (UTI). This study aimed to determine the association of MHM practices with urogenital infections, controlling for environmental drivers. A hospital-based case-control study was conducted on 486 women at Odisha, India. Cases and controls were recruited using a syndromic approach. Vaginal swabs were collected from all the participants and tested for BV status using Amsel’s criteria. Urine samples were cultured to assess UTI status. Socioeconomic status, clinical symptoms and reproductive history, and MHM and water and sanitation practices were obtained by standardised questionnaire. A total of 486 women were recruited to the study, 228 symptomatic cases and 258 asymptomatic controls. Women who used reusable absorbent pads were more likely to have symptoms of urogenital infection (AdjOR=2.3, 95%CI1.5-3.4) or to be diagnosed with at least one urogenital infection (BV or UTI) (AdjOR=2.8, 95%CI1.7-4.5), than women using disposable pads. Increased wealth and space for personal hygiene in the household were protective for BV (AdjOR=0.5, 95%CI0.3-0.9 and AdjOR=0.6, 95%CI0.3-0.9 respectively). Lower education of the participants was the only factor associated with UTI after adjusting for all the confounders (AdjOR=3.1, 95%CI1.2-7.9). Interventions that ensure women have access to private facilities with water for MHM and that educate women about safer, low-cost MHM materials could reduce urogenital disease among women. Further studies of the effects of specific practices for managing hygienically reusable pads and studies to explore other pathogenic reproductive tract infections are needed.

Concepts: Disease, Bacteria, Urinary tract infection, Urine, Reproductive system, Vagina, Hygiene, Bacterial vaginosis


OBJECTIVE: Reduced CD16 expression is associated with neutrophil apoptosis. This study aimed to compare CD16 expression on neutrophils in the vagina from women with normal bacterial flora and with vaginitis. STUDY DESIGN: Vaginal lavages were sampled from volunteers diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis (BV, n=34), vulvovaginal candidiasis (VC, n=43), BV plus VC (BV+VC, n=14), and normal flora (NF, n=51). Neutrophils were identified by expression of CD15, CD16 and CD24 surface markers as assessed by flow cytometry. RESULTS: CD16 expression was elevated in neutrophils from women with vaginitis (BV p<0.0001; VC p=0.01; BV+VC p=0.0027) as compared to women with NF. CONCLUSION: The reduction in CD16 down-regulation is consistent with prolonged neutrophil viability and activity in the vagina of women with vaginitis. This may contribute to greater microbial clearance and, conversely, with inflammation-associated pathology.

Concepts: Bacteria, Flow cytometry, Gynecology, Vagina, Candidiasis, Bacterial vaginosis, Human flora, Vaginitis