Research Spotlight

The Vaginal Microbial Signatures of Preterm Birth Delivery in Indian Women / Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2021 May 13

Shakti Kumar, Naina Kumari, Daizee Talukdar, Akansha Kothidar, Mousumi Sarkar, Ojasvi Mehta, Pallavi Kshetrapal, Nitya Wadhwa, Ramachandran Thiruvengadam, Bapu Koundinya Desiraju, G Balakrish Nair, Shinjini Bhatnagar, Souvik Mukherjee, Bhabatosh Das, GARBH-Ini Study Group PMID: 34094994 PMCID: PMC8169982 DOI: 10.3389/fcimb.2021.622474

Background: The incidence of preterm birth (PTB) in India is around 13%. Specific bacterial communities or individual taxon living in the vaginal milieu of pregnant women is a potential risk factor for PTB and may play an important role in its pathophysiology. Besides, bacterial taxa associated with PTB vary across populations.

Objective: Conduct a comparative analysis of vaginal microbiome composition and microbial genomic repertoires of women who enrolled in the Interdisciplinary Group for Advanced Research on Birth Outcomes - A DBT India Initiative (GARBH-Ini) pregnancy cohort to identify bacterial taxa associated with term birth (TB) and PTB in Indian women.

Methods: Vaginal swabs were collected during all three trimesters from 38 pregnant Indian women who delivered spontaneous term (n=20) and preterm (n=18) neonates. Paired-end sequencing of V3-V4 region of 16S rRNA gene was performed using the metagenomic DNA isolated from vaginal swabs (n=115). Whole genome sequencing of bacterial species associated with birth outcomes was carried out by shotgun method. Lactobacillus species were grown anaerobically in the De Man, Rogosa and Sharpe (MRS) agar culture medium for isolation of genomic DNA and whole genome sequencing.

Results: Vaginal microbiome of both term and preterm samples reveals similar alpha diversity indices. However, significantly higher abundance of Lactobacillus iners (p-value All_Trimesters < 0 xss=removed p-value3rd_Trimester =0.010)>

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that the dominance of specific Lactobacillus species and few other facultative anaerobes are associated with birth outcomes.