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Open AccessArticle

Identification of Vaginal Microbial Communities Associated with Extreme Cervical Shortening in Pregnant Women

1
Department of Biology, University of Florence, Sesto Fiorentino, 50019 Florence, Italy
2
Department of Health Sciences, Division of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Florence, 50139 Florence, Italy
3
Institute of Agricultural Biology and Biotechnology, National Research Council, 56124 Pisa, Italy
4
Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Florence, 50139 Florence, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(11), 3621; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9113621
Received: 24 September 2020 / Revised: 4 November 2020 / Accepted: 6 November 2020 / Published: 10 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Preterm Delivery)
The vaginal microbiota plays a critical role in pregnancy. Bacteria from Lactobacillus spp. are thought to maintain immune homeostasis and modulate the inflammatory responses against pathogens implicated in cervical shortening, one of the risk factors for spontaneous preterm birth. We studied vaginal microbiota in 46 pregnant women of predominantly Caucasian ethnicity diagnosed with short cervix (<25 mm), and identified microbial communities associated with extreme cervical shortening (≤10 mm). Vaginal microbiota was defined by 16S rRNA gene sequencing and clustered into community state types (CSTs), based on dominance or depletion of Lactobacillus spp. No correlation between CSTs distribution and maternal age or gestational age was revealed. CST-IV, dominated by aerobic and anaerobic bacteria different than Lactobacilli, was associated with extreme cervical shortening (odds ratio (OR) = 15.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.56–14.21; p = 0.019). CST-III (L. iners-dominated) was also associated with extreme cervical shortening (OR = 6.4, 95% CI = 1.32–31.03; p = 0.02). Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) was diagnosed in 10/46 women. Bacterial richness was significantly higher in women experiencing this metabolic disorder, but no association with cervical shortening was revealed by statistical analysis. Our study confirms that Lactobacillus-depleted microbiota is significantly associated with an extremely short cervix in women of predominantly Caucasian ethnicity, and also suggests an association between L. iners-dominated microbiota (CST III) and cervical shortening. View Full-Text
Keywords: high-risk pregnancy; shortened cervix; microbiome; Lactobacillus high-risk pregnancy; shortened cervix; microbiome; Lactobacillus
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Di Paola, M.; Seravalli, V.; Paccosi, S.; Linari, C.; Parenti, A.; De Filippo, C.; Tanturli, M.; Vitali, F.; Torcia, M.G.; Di Tommaso, M. Identification of Vaginal Microbial Communities Associated with Extreme Cervical Shortening in Pregnant Women. J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9, 3621.

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