Microbiology & Immunology Publications
The vaginal microbiome of pregnant women is less rich and diverse, with lower prevalence of Mollicutes, compared to non-pregnant women
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The vaginal microbiome plays an important role in maternal and neonatal health. Imbalances in this microbiota (dysbiosis) during pregnancy are associated with negative reproductive outcomes, such as pregnancy loss and preterm birth, but the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Consequently a comprehensive understanding of the baseline microbiome in healthy pregnancy is needed. We characterized the vaginal microbiomes of healthy pregnant women at 11-16 weeks of gestational age (n = 182) and compared them to those of non-pregnant women (n = 310). Profiles were created by pyrosequencing of the cpn60 universal target region. Microbiome profiles of pregnant women clustered into six Community State Types: I, II, III, IVC, IVD and V. Overall microbiome profiles could not be distinguished based on pregnancy status. However, the vaginal microbiomes of women with healthy ongoing pregnancies had lower richness and diversity, lower prevalence of Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma and higher bacterial load when compared to non-pregnant women. Lactobacillus abundance was also greater in the microbiomes of pregnant women with Lactobacillus-dominated CSTs in comparison with non-pregnant women. This study provides further information regarding characteristics of the vaginal microbiome of low-risk pregnant women, providing a baseline for forthcoming studies investigating the diagnostic potential of the microbiome for prediction of adverse pregnancy outcomes.