'Oral' bacteria may disrupt the balance of the vaginal micro
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Women with bacterial vaginosis (BV), an imbalance of the vaginal microbiome, are more likely to be colonized by potential pathogens such as Fusobacterium nucleatum, a bacterium linked with intrauterine infection and preterm birth. However, the conditions and mechanisms supporting pathogen colonization during vaginal dysbiosis remain obscure. Researchers demonstrate that sialidase activity, a diagnostic feature of BV, promoted F. nucleatum foraging and growth on mammalian sialoglycans, a nutrient resource that was otherwise inaccessible because of the lack of endogenous F. nucleatum sialidase. In mice with sialidase-producing vaginal microbiotas, mutant F. nucleatum unable to consume sialic acids was impaired in vaginal colonization. These experiments in mice also led to the discovery that F. nucleatum may also “give back” to the community by reinforcing sialidase activity, a biochemical feature of human dysbiosis. Using human vaginal bacterial communities, researchers show that F. nucleatum supported robust outgrowth of Gardnerella vaginalis, a major sialidase producer and one of the most abundant organisms in BV. These results illustrate that mutually beneficial relationships between vaginal bacteria support pathogen colonization and may help maintain features of dysbiosis. These findings challenge the simplistic dogma that the mere absence of “healthy” lactobacilli is the sole mechanism that creates a permissive environment for pathogens during vaginal dysbiosis.

The researchers demonstrated that mutual benefit between bacteria species may promote pathogen colonization of the vagina and encourage features of vaginal dysbiosis. However, additional studies are needed to develop modes of prevention or treatment of BV in women. Fusobacterium is widespread in human mouths and overgrows in dental plaque; the authors speculate that it may be introduced during oral sex, which has been identified in some clinical studies as a risk factor for BV.

Source: https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000788
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