Bacteria are key to vaginal health, researchers say

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A new study examined how specific bacteria alter the vaginal microenvironment and ultimately influence the balance between health and disease. Credit: University of Arizona

Bacterial vaginosis is the most common and common gynecological disease that affects nearly 30 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 44, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A study led by the University of Arizona’s Health Sciences has recently identified a specific family of bacteria and found how it contributes to bacterial vaginosis, paving the way for new perspectives on disease prevention and treatment.

Led by Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, Ph.D., a member of the BIO5 Institute and an associate professor of basic medical sciences at the College of Medicine – Phoenix, the researchers found that members of the Veillonellaceae family of bacteria contribute to an increase in inflammation and , and alter the acidity of the cervical microenvironment. These changes are supported and create favorable conditions for later gynecological diseases, such as sexually transmitted infections and cancer.

“Bacterial vaginosis is an enigma,” said Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz, who is also director of the Women’s Health Research Program. “We know that many factors contribute to this , but little is known about the functional impact of key players and how they are changing the local landscape. “

The paper, “Members of the Veillonellaceae Family Uniquely Alter the Cervical Metabolic Microenvironment in a Three-Dimensional Human Epithelial Model,” published July 6 in the journal npj Biofilms and Microbiomes, found that members of the Veillonellaceae family contribute to the disease by altering inflammation and metabolism in the cervicovaginal region.

He it is typically colonized by health-promoting bacteria, such as Lactobacillus. Although these bacteria are considered friendly, an imbalance can lead to the creation of a biofilm — a consortium of many different harmful microbes — that promotes disease.

Last year, Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz and colleagues described a hypothetical model in which interactions between microbes and human cells alter the vaginal microenvironment and ultimately influence the balance between health and disease. This study is the first to define a definitive role for this bacterial family in bacterial vaginosis.

Using a 3D human model, the group of Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz evaluated the effects of three bacteria — Veillonella atypica, Veillonella montpellierensis, and Megasphaera micronuciformis — on the cervical microenvironment.

They found that two species: V. atypica and V. montpellierensis: decreased lactate, an acid typically produced by beneficial bacteria that provides protection against harmful infections. These two species also increased substances that play a role in vaginal odor associated with bacterial vaginosis.

They also found that M. micronuciformis further promotes disease progression by increasing inflammation and promoting cell death by producing certain fat molecules.

The ideas in this study lay the groundwork for polymicrobial or “multi-bug” studies, which can determine the complex interaction effects of various bacterial species on female reproductive health.

“Using this study and our 3D model as a foundation, we hope to determine if and how other species alter the environment to contribute to bacterial vaginosis,” said Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz. “We found that different species have different contributions, so we also hope to classify a variety of microbes associated with bacterial vaginosis based on their unique effects on female reproductive tract.”

Ultimately, Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz says this study and others like it can help inform treatment and intervention strategies.

“It is important to know who the main actors are, but also how they influence physiological processes and diseases, so that we can develop specific strategies to treat bacterial vaginosis and prevent subsequent gynecological infections and cancer,” he said.


The study shows that new proteins play an important role in bacterial vaginosis


More information:
Mary E. Salliss et al, members of the Veillonellaceae family uniquely alter the cervical metabolic microenvironment in a three-dimensional human epithelial model, npj Biofilms and Microbiomes (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41522-021-00229-0

Citation: Bacteria are key to vaginal health, according to researchers (2021, July 14), recovered on July 14, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-bacteria-key-vaginal- health.html

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