Unveiling the role of Gardnerella vaginalis in polymicrobial Bacterial Vaginosis biofilms: the impact of other vaginal pathogens living as neighbors

Joana Castro, Daniela Machado, Nuno Cerca*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is characterized by a highly structured polymicrobial biofilm, which is strongly adhered to the vaginal epithelium and primarily consists of the bacterium Gardnerella vaginalis. However, despite the presence of other BV-associated bacteria, little is known regarding the impact of other species on BV development. To gain insight into BV progress, we analyzed the ecological interactions between G. vaginalis and 15 BV-associated microorganisms using a dual-species biofilm model. Bacterial populations were quantified using a validated peptide nucleic acid fluorescence in situ hybridization approach. Furthermore, biofilm structure was analyzed by confocal laser scanning microscopy. In addition, bacterial coaggregation ability was determined as well as the expression of key virulence genes. Remarkably, our results revealed distinct biofilm structures between each bacterial consortium, leading to at least three unique dual-species biofilm morphotypes. Furthermore, our transcriptomic findings seem to indicate that Enterococcus faecalis and Actinomyces neuii had a higher impact on the enhancement of G. vaginalis virulence, while the other tested species had a lower or no impact on G. vaginalis virulence. This study casts a new light on how BV-associated species can modulate the virulence aspects of G. vaginalis, contributing to a better understanding of the development of BV-associated biofilms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1306-1317
Number of pages12
JournalISME Journal
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes

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