Penis microbiota predicts if a man's female partner will develop bacterial vaginosis

August 04, 2020

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is an infection affecting more than 20% of women worldwide. Caused by a change in the natural balance of the vaginal microbiota, this infection can lead to adverse outcomes in pregnancy as well as more susceptibility to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, herpes simplex virus, chlamydia, or gonorrhea. While previous studies strongly suggest that partners' reproductive microbiomes might be exchanged in BV, a question remained: is the penile microbiota at the origin of BV onset in women?

To address this question researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago, here compare the microbiota of couples before and after the occurrence of BV. The results, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, show that men's microbiota has a role in BV onset and that BV-related bacteria present in men's penile microbiome can be used to predict with high accuracy BV incidence in their female partner.

The stakes of the study could be high for women infected by BV. "Antibiotic treatment of BV has limited long-term success, with up to 50% of women having recurrence within 6 months, so we need more effective approaches to treatment. Male sex partner treatment may be a new strategy" says Dr Supriya D. Mehta, an epidemiologist at University of Illinois at Chicago, first author of the study.

To assess the association between penile microbiota composition and BV onset, the team of researchers, followed 168 Kenyan heterosexual couples in which women did not have BV at the start of the study. Over the course of a year, more than 31% of the women developed BV. While the overall microbiota composition was different from man to man, analysis shows a direct correlation between the composition of a man's microbiome and the occurrence of BV in his female partner later in the year.

The temporal association observed suggests that the nature of penile microbiota could serve as a predictor of BV. Using machine learning algorithms, the researchers highlighted 10 BV-related bacteria, found in some men's microbiota, that could be used to predict with high accuracy the occurrence of BV in women.

But is penile microbiota the only factor responsible for BV? The authors discuss two possible scenarios. First, BV-associated bacteria found in some men's microbiome may have a direct impact on the onset of BV when transmitted to the vagina during sexual intercourse. Second, penile bacteria may only contribute to an overall perturbation of the natural balance of the vaginal microbiome and induce BV in the long term or after repetitive exposure. To uncover the exact mechanism through which penile microbiota trigger BV in female partners more studies will be needed.

Altogether, this study suggests that there may be improved effectiveness of treating BV in both partners. "I would like for clinicians, researchers, and the public to be inclusive of male sex partners in their efforts to improve women's reproductive health. Not to place directionality or blame on one partner or another, but to increase the options and opportunity for improved reproductive health, and hopefully reduce stigma from BV," says Mehta.
-end-


Frontiers

Related Microbiome Articles from Brightsurf:

The microbiome of Da Vinci's drawings
The microbiome study of seven drawings from Leonardo Da Vinci reveals that conservation work, geographical location, and past contaminations leave invisible traces on drawings despite their optimal storage conditions: a novel aspect of art objects that could be monitored to establish a bioarchive of our artistic heritage.

Managing the microbiome raises new hope for autism
Analysis of 619 plasma metabolites in a new study show a distinctive metabolic profile in autistic children prior to microbial transfer therapy The procedure helps modify gut microbiota, improving symptoms gastrointestinal and behavioral symptoms of the disease.

Discoveries reshape understanding of gut microbiome
The findings redefine how the so-called gut microbiome operates and how our bodies coexist with some of the 100 trillion bacteria that make it up.

A new tool for modeling the human gut microbiome
MIT engineers designed a device that replicates the lining of the colon.

How viruses and bacteria balance each other in the gut microbiome
A tiny arms race between bacteria and the viruses that attack them inside the gut could eventually offer a new way to treat out-of-balance microbiomes.

Microbiome confers resistance to cholera
Many parts of the world are in the midst of a deadly pandemic of cholera, an extreme form of watery diarrhea.

Parasites and the microbiome
In a study of ethnically diverse people from Cameroon, the presence of a parasite infection was closely linked to the make-up of the gastrointestinal microbiome, according to a research team led by Penn scientists.

Gut microbiome influences ALS outcomes
Harvard University scientists have identified a new gut-brain connection in the neurodegenerative disease ALS.

The microbiome controls immune system fitness
Working alongside colleagues in Mainz, Bern, Hannover and Bonn, researchers from Charité -- Universitätsmedizin Berlin, the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) and the German Rheumatism Research Center Berlin (DRFZ) were able to show how the microbiome helps to render the immune system capable of responding to pathogens.

Researchers uncover the moscow subway microbiome
Recently, a group of ITMO University researchers has looked into the microbiome of the Moscow Subway.

Read More: Microbiome News and Microbiome Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.