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Lactobacillus-dominated cervicovaginal microbiota associated with reduced HIV/STI prevalence and genital HIV viral load in african women

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Author: Borgdorff, H. · Tsivtsivadze, E. · Verhelst, R. · Marzorati, M. · Jurriaans, S. · Ndayisaba, G.F. · Schuren, F.H. · Wijgert, J.H.H.M. van de
Source:ISME Journal, 9, 8, 1781-1793
Identifier: 516495
doi: doi:10.1038/ismej.2014.26
Keywords: Biology · Bacterial vaginosis · Cervicovaginal HIV-1 RNA · Cervicovaginal microbiome · HIV · Sexually transmitted infections · Disease prevalence · Human immunodeficiency virus · Pregnancy · Prostitution · Reproductive health · Sexually transmitted disease · Womens health · Rwanda · Atopobium · Bacteria (microorganisms) · Gardnerella · Human herpesvirus 2 · Human immunodeficiency virus · Human immunodeficiency virus 1 · Human papillomavirus · Lactobacillus · Lactobacillus crispatus · Lactobacillus iners · Prevotella · Biomedical Innovation · Healthy Living · Life · MSB - Microbiology and Systems Biology · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


Cervicovaginal microbiota not dominated by lactobacilli may facilitate transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as miscarriages, preterm births and sepsis in pregnant women. However, little is known about the exact nature of the microbiological changes that cause these adverse outcomes. In this study, cervical samples of 174 Rwandan female sex workers were analyzed cross-sectionally using a phylogenetic microarray. Furthermore, HIV-1 RNA concentrations were measured in cervicovaginal lavages of 58 HIV-positive women among them. We identified six microbiome clusters, representing a gradient from low semi-quantitative abundance and diversity dominated by Lactobacillus crispatus (cluster R-I, with R denoting 'Rwanda') and L. iners (R-II) to intermediate (R-V) and high abundance and diversity (R-III, R-IV and R-VI) dominated by a mixture of anaerobes, including Gardnerella, Atopobium and Prevotella species. Women in cluster R-I were less likely to have HIV (P=0.03), herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2; P<0.01), and high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV; P<0.01) and had no bacterial STIs (P=0.15). Statistically significant trends in prevalence of viral STIs were found from low prevalence in cluster R-I, to higher prevalence in clusters R-II and R-V, and highest prevalence in clusters R-III/R-IV/R-VI. Furthermore, only 10% of HIV-positive women in clusters R-I/R-II, compared with 40% in cluster R-V, and 42% in clusters R-III/R-IV/R-VI had detectable cervicovaginal HIV-1 RNA (P trend =0.03). We conclude that L. crispatus-dominated, and to a lesser extent L. iners-dominated, cervicovaginal microbiota are associated with a lower prevalence of HIV/STIs and a lower likelihood of genital HIV-1 RNA shedding.