Concept: Female reproductive system
Reports on bacteria detected in maternal fluids during pregnancy are typically associated with adverse consequences, and whether the female reproductive tract harbours distinct microbial communities beyond the vagina has been a matter of debate. Here we systematically sample the microbiota within the female reproductive tract in 110 women of reproductive age, and examine the nature of colonisation by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and cultivation. We find distinct microbial communities in cervical canal, uterus, fallopian tubes and peritoneal fluid, differing from that of the vagina. The results reflect a microbiota continuum along the female reproductive tract, indicative of a non-sterile environment. We also identify microbial taxa and potential functions that correlate with the menstrual cycle or are over-represented in subjects with adenomyosis or infertility due to endometriosis. The study provides insight into the nature of the vagino-uterine microbiome, and suggests that surveying the vaginal or cervical microbiota might be useful for detection of common diseases in the upper reproductive tract.Whether the female reproductive tract harbours distinct microbiomes beyond the vagina has been a matter of debate. Here, the authors show a subject-specific continuity in microbial communities at six sites along the female reproductive tract, indicative of a non-sterile environment.
Does the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology-European Society for Gynaecological Endoscopy (ESHRE-ESGE) classification of female genital tract malformations significantly increase the frequency of septate uterus diagnosis relative to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) classification?
The endocrine system dynamically controls tissue differentiation and homeostasis, but has not been studied using dynamic tissue culture paradigms. Here we show that a microfluidic system supports murine ovarian follicles to produce the human 28-day menstrual cycle hormone profile, which controls human female reproductive tract and peripheral tissue dynamics in single, dual and multiple unit microfluidic platforms (Solo-MFP, Duet-MFP and Quintet-MPF, respectively). These systems simulate the in vivo female reproductive tract and the endocrine loops between organ modules for the ovary, fallopian tube, uterus, cervix and liver, with a sustained circulating flow between all tissues. The reproductive tract tissues and peripheral organs integrated into a microfluidic platform, termed EVATAR, represents a powerful new in vitro tool that allows organ-organ integration of hormonal signalling as a phenocopy of menstrual cycle and pregnancy-like endocrine loops and has great potential to be used in drug discovery and toxicology studies.
Patients with high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSC) exhibit poor 5-year survival rates, which may be significantly improved by early-stage detection. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved biomarkers for HGSC-CA-125 (cancer antigen 125) and HE4 (human epididymis protein 4)-do not generally appear at detectable levels in the serum until advanced stages of the disease. An implantable device placed proximal to disease sites, such as in or near the fallopian tube, ovary, uterine cavity, or peritoneal cavity, may constitute a feasible strategy to improve detection of HGSC. We engineered a prototype optical sensor composed of an antibody-functionalized carbon nanotube complex, which responds quantitatively to HE4 via modulation of the nanotube optical bandgap. The complexes measured HE4 with nanomolar sensitivity to differentiate disease from benign patient biofluids. The sensors were implanted into four models of ovarian cancer, within a semipermeable membrane, enabling the optical detection of HE4 within the live animals. We present the first in vivo optical nanosensor capable of noninvasive cancer biomarker detection in orthotopic models of disease.
We describe a rare case of clitoromegaly due to a large clitoral cyst that occurred spontaneously without any declared previous female genital mutilation. The cyst was excised successfully with good cosmetic results.
We quantified vaginal lactobacilli and determined their relationship with genital HIV-1 shedding and found a significant negative association between reduced quantity of lactobacilli and cervical HIV-1 viral load (r(2) = - 0.8900, P < 0.01), which may have implications of increased chances of sexual transmission of HIV-1 and genital infections.
Spontaneous ovarian tunica albuginea contractility was evaluated in gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata L.) at different phases of the reproductive cycle. Fourteen adult females were sampled from February to November 2012 in a commercial fish farm, and ovaries were removed and processed for histological and contractility analyses. Fish reproductive stages were evaluated on haematoxylin-eosin-stained ovary sections or by simple macroscopic observation of hydrated oocytes in spawning individuals. Tunica albuginea spontaneous contractility was recorded by using ovary wall strips mounted in an organ bath containing modified Ringer’s solution. Ovary macro- and microscopic analyses allowed the identification of three different reproductive conditions: vitellogenesis, spawning and regressing. The gilthead seabream tunica albuginea was capable to contract spontaneously, and significant differences were found in mean contraction amplitude among the three reproductive states, with the highest value recorded in individuals in regressing condition and the lowest in individuals at spawning stage. No differences in mean contractility frequency among the three different groups were found. Possible involvement of spontaneous contractility in facilitating developing follicle advancement towards the ovarian lumen within the ovary and in supporting recovery of regressing ovaries may be hypothesized. The low contractility observed during the final oocyte maturation and spawning phases does not seem to support a role of tunica albuginea during ovulation, which could conversely involve theca cell contraction. Alternatively, possible single instantaneous contractions of tunica albuginea muscle fibres, not detected in the present study, could occur during ovulation in response to neuro-hormonal stimulations; a role of abdominal wall musculature in ovary “squeezing” and consequent release of ovulated eggs cannot be excluded.
Enterobius vermicularis infection remains one of the most common parasitic infections, particularly prevalent in children. Enterobiasis, although not usually dangerous, may cause significant morbidity. Elimination of the parasite from a family or an institution often poses problems, either because of an incomplete cure or re-infection. While there have been limited reports of ectopic enterobiasis throughout the world, ours is probably one of the rarest reports of recurrent vaginal E. vermicularis infection in the absence of any gastrointestinal symptoms despite complete treatment. A 4-year-old girl presented with recurrent episodes of vulval itching on 3-4 occasions over 2 years. There was no pruritis ani nor urinary/gastrointestinal complaints. The vulva was inflamed with 4-5 living worms, 6-7 mm in length, emerging from the anterior vaginal fornix, but with no vaginal discharge. Direct microscopic examination of vaginal swabs revealed adult worms of Enterobius but no eggs. Repeated stool samples from the patient, parents and a sibling were negative. The patient was treated orally with 100 mg of mebendazole for 3 days followed by two more courses at 3-week intervals over a period of 3 months. Recurrent vaginal enterobiasis despite complete treatment and in the absence of any gastrointestinal involvement suggests that the vagina is a potential reservoir for E. vermicularis, which supports the theory of rare ectopic enterobiasis through the ascending pathway of the female genital tract.
The human uterus mainly consists of two layers: an inner endometrium and an outer layer, the myometrium, made of smooth muscle. The uterus is characterized by its unique capacity for regeneration. This capacity permits cyclical regeneration and remodeling of the tissue over the course of a woman’s reproductive life. During each menstrual cycle, the endometrium regenerates, and the uterus enlarges to make room for fetal growth. This cyclic physiologic pattern suggests that myometrial stem/progenitor cells are present in the tissue and play a role in myometrial functions. Our group (and others) recently characterized and isolated putative stem/progenitor cells in the myometrium. These findings are permitting a better understanding of myometrial physiology and pathology. We review current studies of myometrial stem/progenitor cells and suggestions that, in combination with hypoxia, these cells may contribute to uterine remodeling during pregnancy and the formation of myomas.
Female genital alteration (FGA) is any cutting, removal or destruction of any part of the external female genitalia. Various FGA practices are common throughout the world. While most frequent in Africa and Asia, transglobal migration has brought ritual FGA to Western nations. All forms of FGA are generally considered undesirable for medical and ethical reasons when performed on minors. One ritual FGA procedure is the vulvar nick (VN). This is a small laceration to the vulva that does not cause morphological changes. Besides being performed as a primary ritual procedure it has been proposed as a substitute for more extensive forms of FGA. Measures advocated or taken to reduce the burden of FGA can be punitive or non-punitive. Even if it is unethical to perform VN, we argue that it also is unethical to attempt to suppress it through punishment. First, punishment of VN is likely to cause more harm than good overall, even to those ostensibly being protected. Second, punishment is likely to exceed legitimate retributive ends. We do not argue in favor of performing VN. Rather, we argue that non-punitive strategies such as education and harm reduction should be employed.