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1.  Antibiotic susceptibility of Atopobium vaginae 
Background
Previous studies have indicated that a recently described anaerobic bacterium, Atopobium vaginae is associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV). Thus far the four isolates of this fastidious micro-organism were found to be highly resistant to metronidazole and susceptible for clindamycin, two antibiotics preferred for the treatment of BV.
Methods
Nine strains of Atopobium vaginae, four strains of Gardnerella vaginalis, two strains of Lactobacillus iners and one strain each of Bifidobacterium breve, B. longum, L. crispatus, L. gasseri and L. jensenii were tested against 15 antimicrobial agents using the Etest.
Results
All nine strains of A. vaginae were highly resistant to nalidixic acid and colistin while being inhibited by low concentrations of clindamycin (range: < 0.016 μg/ml), rifampicin (< 0.002 μg/ml), azithromycin (< 0.016 – 0.32 μg/ml), penicillin (0.008 – 0.25 μg/ml), ampicillin (< 0.016 – 0.94 μg/ml), ciprofloxacin (0.023 – 0.25 μg/ml) and linezolid (0.016 – 0.125 μg/ml). We found a variable susceptibility for metronidazole, ranging from 2 to more than 256 μg/ml. The four G. vaginalis strains were also susceptible for clindamycin (< 0.016 – 0.047 μg/ml) and three strains were susceptible to less than 1 μg/ml of metronidazole. All lactobacilli were resistant to metronidazole (> 256 μg/ml) but susceptible to clindamycin (0.023 – 0.125 μg/ml).
Conclusion
Clindamycin has higher activity against G. vaginalis and A. vaginae than metronidazole, but not all A. vaginae isolates are metronidazole resistant, as seemed to be a straightforward conclusion from previous studies on a more limited number of strains.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-51
PMCID: PMC1468414  PMID: 16542416
2.  Comparison of different sampling techniques and of different culture methods for detection of group B streptococcus carriage in pregnant women 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:285.
Background
Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus; GBS) is a significant cause of perinatal and neonatal infections worldwide. To detect GBS colonization in pregnant women, the CDC recommends isolation of the bacterium from vaginal and anorectal swab samples by growth in a selective enrichment medium, such as Lim broth (Todd-Hewitt broth supplemented with selective antibiotics), followed by subculture on sheep blood agar. However, this procedure may require 48 h to complete. We compared different sampling and culture techniques for the detection of GBS.
Methods
A total of 300 swabs was taken from 100 pregnant women at 35-37 weeks of gestation. For each subject, one rectovaginal, one vaginal and one rectal ESwab were collected. Plating onto Columbia CNA agar (CNA), group B streptococcus differential agar (GBSDA) (Granada Medium) and chromID Strepto B agar (CA), with and without Lim broth enrichment, were compared. The isolates were confirmed as S. agalactiae using the CAMP test on blood agar and by molecular identification with tDNA-PCR or by 16S rRNA gene sequence determination.
Results
The overall GBS colonization rate was 22%. GBS positivity for rectovaginal sampling (100%) was significantly higher than detection on the basis of vaginal sampling (50%), but not significantly higher than for rectal sampling (82%). Direct plating of the rectovaginal swab on CNA, GBSDA and CA resulted in detection of 59, 91 and 95% of the carriers, respectively, whereas subculturing of Lim broth yielded 77, 95 and 100% positivity, respectively. Lim broth enrichment enabled the detection of only one additional GBS positive subject. There was no significant difference between GBSDA and CA, whereas both were more sensitive than CNA. Direct culture onto GBSDA or CA (91 and 95%) detected more carriers than Lim broth enrichment and subculture onto CNA (77%). One false negative isolate was observed on GBSDA, and three false positives on CA.
Conclusions
In conclusion, rectovaginal sampling increased the number GBS positive women detected, compared to vaginal and/or rectal sampling. Direct plating on CA and/or GBSDA provided rapid detection of GBS that was at least as sensitive and specific as the CDC recommended method of Lim broth subcultured onto non chromogenic agar.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-285
PMCID: PMC2956727  PMID: 20920213
3.  The development of a 16S rRNA gene based PCR for the identification of Streptococcus pneumoniae and comparison with four other species specific PCR assays 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:104.
Background
Streptococcus pneumoniae is one of the most frequently encountered pathogens in humans but its differentiation from closely related but less pathogenic streptococci remains a challenge.
Methods
This report describes a newly-developed PCR assay (Spne-PCR), amplifying a 217 bp product of the 16S rRNA gene of S. pneumoniae, and its performance compared to other genotypic and phenotypic tests.
Results
The new PCR assay designed in this study, proved to be specific at 57°C for S. pneumoniae, not amplifying S. pseudopneumoniae or any other streptococcal strain or any strains from other upper airway pathogenic species. PCR assays (psaA, LytA, ply, spn9802-PCR) were previously described for the specific amplification of S. pneumoniae, but psaA-PCR was the only one found not to cross-react with S. pseudopneumoniae.
Conclusion
Spne-PCR, developed for this study, and psaA-PCR were the only two assays which did not mis-identify S. pseudopneumoniae as S. pneumoniae. Four other PCR assays and the AccuProbe assay were unable to distinguish between these species.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-104
PMCID: PMC2874796  PMID: 20426878
4.  The significance of Lactobacillus crispatus and L. vaginalis for vaginal health and the negative effect of recent sex: a cross-sectional descriptive study across groups of African women 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2015;15:115.
Background
Women in sub-Saharan Africa are vulnerable to acquiring HIV infection and reproductive tract infections. Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a disruption of the vaginal microbiota, has been shown to be strongly associated with HIV infection. Risk factors related to potentially protective or harmful microbiota species are not known.
Methods
We present cross-sectional quantitative polymerase chain reaction data of the Lactobacillus genus, five Lactobacillus species, and three BV-related bacteria (Gardnerella vaginalis, Atopobium vaginae, and Prevotella bivia) together with Escherichia coli and Candida albicans in 426 African women across different groups at risk for HIV. We selected a reference group of adult HIV-negative women at average risk for HIV acquisition and compared species variations in subgroups of adolescents, HIV-negative pregnant women, women engaging in traditional vaginal practices, sex workers and a group of HIV-positive women on combination antiretroviral therapy. We explored the associations between presence and quantity of the bacteria with BV by Nugent score, in relation to several factors of known or theoretical importance.
Results
The presence of species across Kenyan, South African and Rwandan women was remarkably similar and few differences were seen between the two groups of reference women in Kenya and South Africa. The Rwandan sex workers and HIV-positive women had the highest G. vaginalis presence (p = 0.006). Pregnant women had a higher Lactobacillus genus mean log (7.01 genome equivalents (geq)/ml) compared to the reference women (6.08 geq/ml). L. vaginalis (43%) was second to L. iners (81.9%) highly present in women with a normal Nugent score. Recent sexual exposure negatively affected the presence of L. crispatus (<0.001), L. vaginalis (p = 0.001), and Lactobacillus genus (p < 0.001). Having more than one sexual partner in the last three months was associated with an increased prevalence of G. vaginalis (p = 0.044) and L. iners (p = 0.001).
Conclusions
Although the composition of species across the studied African countries was similar, the presence of protective species i.e. L. crispatus and L. vaginalis in women with a normal Nugent score appeared lower compared to non-African studies. Furthermore, Lactobacillus species were negatively affected by sexual behavioural. Strategies to support protective Lactobacillus species are urgently needed.
Trial registration
The study is registered at the Trial Registration at the National Health Research Ethics Council South Africa with the number DOH2709103223.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12879-015-0825-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12879-015-0825-z
PMCID: PMC4351943  PMID: 25879811
Bacterial vaginosis; Lactobacillus, reproductive health; Sexually transmitted infections; quantitative PCR; Sub-Saharan Africa; Vaginal microbiota; Sexual health; HIV prevention
5.  Correlates of the molecular vaginal microbiota composition of African women 
Background
Sociodemographic, behavioral and clinical correlates of the vaginal microbiome (VMB) as characterized by molecular methods have not been adequately studied. VMB dominated by bacteria other than lactobacilli may cause inflammation, which may facilitate HIV acquisition and other adverse reproductive health outcomes.
Methods
We characterized the VMB of women in Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa and Tanzania (KRST) using a 16S rDNA phylogenetic microarray. Cytokines were quantified in cervicovaginal lavages. Potential sociodemographic, behavioral, and clinical correlates were also evaluated.
Results
Three hundred thirteen samples from 230 women were available for analysis. Five VMB clusters were identified: one cluster each dominated by Lactobacillus crispatus (KRST-I) and L. iners (KRST-II), and three clusters not dominated by a single species but containing multiple (facultative) anaerobes (KRST-III/IV/V). Women in clusters KRST-I and II had lower mean concentrations of interleukin (IL)-1α (p < 0.001) and Granulocyte Colony Stimulating Factor (G-CSF) (p = 0.01), but higher concentrations of interferon-γ-induced protein (IP-10) (p < 0.01) than women in clusters KRST-III/IV/V. A lower proportion of women in cluster KRST-I tested positive for bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs; ptrend = 0.07) and urinary tract infection (UTI; p = 0.06), and a higher proportion of women in clusters KRST-I and II had vaginal candidiasis (ptrend = 0.09), but these associations did not reach statistical significance. Women who reported unusual vaginal discharge were more likely to belong to clusters KRST-III/IV/V (p = 0.05).
Conclusion
Vaginal dysbiosis in African women was significantly associated with vaginal inflammation; the associations with increased prevalence of STIs and UTI, and decreased prevalence of vaginal candidiasis, should be confirmed in larger studies.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12879-015-0831-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12879-015-0831-1
PMCID: PMC4343073  PMID: 25887567
Bacterial vaginosis; Vaginal microbiome; Vaginal microbiota; Lactobacillus; Candidiasis; Sexually transmitted infections; Urinary tract infections; Women; HIV; Africa
6.  Antiseptics and disinfectants for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis: A systematic review 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:148.
Background
The study objective was to assess the available data on efficacy and tolerability of antiseptics and disinfectants in treating bacterial vaginosis (BV).
Methods
A systematic search was conducted by consulting PubMed (1966-2010), CINAHL (1982-2010), IPA (1970-2010), and the Cochrane CENTRAL databases. Clinical trials were searched for by the generic names of all antiseptics and disinfectants listed in the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) Classification System under the code D08A. Clinical trials were considered eligible if the efficacy of antiseptics and disinfectants in the treatment of BV was assessed in comparison to placebo or standard antibiotic treatment with metronidazole or clindamycin and if diagnosis of BV relied on standard criteria such as Amsel’s and Nugent’s criteria.
Results
A total of 262 articles were found, of which 15 reports on clinical trials were assessed. Of these, four randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were withheld from analysis. Reasons for exclusion were primarily the lack of standard criteria to diagnose BV or to assess cure, and control treatment not involving placebo or standard antibiotic treatment. Risk of bias for the included studies was assessed with the Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias. Three studies showed non-inferiority of chlorhexidine and polyhexamethylene biguanide compared to metronidazole or clindamycin. One RCT found that a single vaginal douche with hydrogen peroxide was slightly, though significantly less effective than a single oral dose of metronidazole.
Conclusion
The use of antiseptics and disinfectants for the treatment of BV has been poorly studied and most studies are somehow methodologically flawed. There is insufficient evidence at present to advocate the use of these agents, although some studies suggest that some antiseptics may have equal efficacy compared to clindamycin or metronidazole. Further study is warranted with special regard to the long-term efficacy and safety of antiseptics and disinfectants for vaginal use.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-148
PMCID: PMC3458956  PMID: 22742642
Bacterial vaginosis; Antiseptics; Disinfectants; Therapy; Systematic review; Chlorhexidine; Polyhexamethylene biguanide; Hydrogen peroxide
7.  The epidemiology of bacterial vaginosis in relation to sexual behaviour 
Background
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) has been most consistently linked to sexual behaviour, and the epidemiological profile of BV mirrors that of established sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It remains a matter of debate however whether BV pathogenesis does actually involve sexual transmission of pathogenic micro-organisms from men to women. We therefore made a critical appraisal of the literature on BV in relation to sexual behaviour.
Discussion
G. vaginalis carriage and BV occurs rarely with children, but has been observed among adolescent, even sexually non-experienced girls, contradicting that sexual transmission is a necessary prerequisite to disease acquisition. G. vaginalis carriage is enhanced by penetrative sexual contact but also by non-penetrative digito-genital contact and oral sex, again indicating that sex per se, but not necessarily coital transmission is involved. Several observations also point at female-to-male rather than at male-to-female transmission of G. vaginalis, presumably explaining the high concordance rates of G. vaginalis carriage among couples. Male antibiotic treatment has not been found to protect against BV, condom use is slightly protective, whereas male circumcision might protect against BV. BV is also common among women-who-have-sex-with-women and this relates at least in part to non-coital sexual behaviours. Though male-to-female transmission cannot be ruled out, overall there is little evidence that BV acts as an STD. Rather, we suggest BV may be considered a sexually enhanced disease (SED), with frequency of intercourse being a critical factor. This may relate to two distinct pathogenetic mechanisms: (1) in case of unprotected intercourse alkalinisation of the vaginal niche enhances a shift from lactobacilli-dominated microflora to a BV-like type of microflora and (2) in case of unprotected and protected intercourse mechanical transfer of perineal enteric bacteria is enhanced by coitus. A similar mechanism of mechanical transfer may explain the consistent link between non-coital sexual acts and BV. Similar observations supporting the SED pathogenetic model have been made for vaginal candidiasis and for urinary tract infection.
Summary
Though male-to-female transmission cannot be ruled out, overall there is incomplete evidence that BV acts as an STI. We believe however that BV may be considered a sexually enhanced disease, with frequency of intercourse being a critical factor.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-81
PMCID: PMC3161362  PMID: 20353563
8.  Identification and genotyping of bacteria from paired vaginal and rectal samples from pregnant women indicates similarity between vaginal and rectal microflora 
Background
The vaginal microflora is important for maintaining vaginal health and preventing infections of the reproductive tract. The rectum has been suggested as the major source for the colonisation of the vaginal econiche.
Methods
To establish whether the rectum can serve as a possible bacterial reservoir for colonisation of the vaginal econiche, we cultured vaginal and rectal specimens from pregnant women at 35-37 weeks of gestation, identified the isolates to the species level with tRNA intergenic length polymorphism analysis (tDNA-PCR) and genotyped the isolates for those subjects from which the same species was isolated simultaneously vaginally and rectally, by RAPD-analysis.
One vaginal and one rectal swab were collected from a total of each of 132 pregnant women at 35-37 weeks of gestation. Swabs were cultured on Columbia CNA agar and MRS agar. For each subject 4 colonies were selected for each of both sites, i.e. 8 colonies in total.
Results
Among the 844 isolates that could be identified by tDNA-PCR, a total of 63 bacterial species were present, 9 (14%) only vaginally, 26 (41%) only rectally, and 28 (44%) in both vagina and rectum. A total of 121 (91.6%) of 132 vaginal samples and 51 (38.6%) of 132 rectal samples were positive for lactobacilli. L. crispatus was the most frequently isolated Lactobacillus species from the vagina (40% of the subjects were positive), followed by L. jensenii (32%), L. gasseri (30%) and L. iners (11%). L. gasseri was the most frequently isolated Lactobacillus species from the rectum (15%), followed by L. jensenii (12%), L. crispatus (11%) and L. iners (2%).
A total of 47 pregnant women carried the same species vaginally and rectally. This resulted in 50 vaginal/rectal pairs of the same species, for a total of eight different species. For 34 of the 50 species pairs (68%), isolates with the same genotype were present vaginally and rectally and a high level of genotypic diversity within species per subject was also established.
Conclusion
It can be concluded that there is a certain degree of correspondence between the vaginal and rectal microflora, not only with regard to species composition but also with regard to strain identity between vaginal and rectal isolates.
These results support the hypothesis that the rectal microflora serves as a reservoir for colonisation of the vaginal econiche.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-167
PMCID: PMC2770471  PMID: 19828036
9.  Genotyping of Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococci) isolated from vaginal and rectal swabs of women at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy 
Background
Group B streptococci (GBS), or Streptococcus agalactiae, are the leading bacterial cause of meningitis and bacterial sepsis in newborns. Here we compared different culture media for GBS detection and we compared the occurrence of different genotypes and serotypes of GBS isolates from the vagina and rectum.
Methods
Streptococcus agalactiae was cultured separately from both rectum and vagina, for a total of 150 pregnant women, i) directly onto Columbia CNA agar, or indirectly onto ii) Granada agar resp. iii) Columbia CNA agar, after overnight incubation in Lim broth.
Results
Thirty six women (24%) were colonized by GBS. Of these, 19 harbored GBS in both rectum and vagina, 9 only in the vagina and 8 exclusively in the rectum. The combination of Lim broth and subculture on Granada agar was the only culture method that detected all GBS positive women. Using RAPD-analysis, a total of 66 genotypes could be established among the 118 isolates from 32 women for which fingerprinting was carried out. Up to 4 different genotypes in total (rectal + vaginal) were found for 4 women, one woman carried 3 different genotypes vaginally and 14 women carried two 2 different genotypes vaginally. Only two subjects were found to carry strains with the same genotype, although the serotype of both of these strains was different.
Eighteen of the 19 subjects with GBS at both sites had at least one vaginal and one rectal isolate with the same genotype.
We report the presence of two to four different genotypes in 22 (61%) of the 36 GBS positive women and the presence of identical genotypes in both sites for all women but one.
Conclusion
The combination of Lim broth and subculture on Granada medium provide high sensitivity for GBS detection from vaginal and rectal swabs from pregnant women. We established a higher genotypic diversity per individual than other studies, with up to four different genotypes among a maximum of 6 isolates per individual picked. Still, 18 of the 19 women with GBS from both rectum and vagina had at least one isolate from each sampling site with the same genotype.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-153
PMCID: PMC2753344  PMID: 19747377
10.  The vaginal microflora in relation to gingivitis 
Background
Gingivitis has been linked to adverse pregnancy outcome (APO). Bacterial vaginosis (BV) has been associated with APO. We assessed if bacterial counts in BV is associated with gingivitis suggesting a systemic infectious susceptibilty.
Methods
Vaginal samples were collected from 180 women (mean age 29.4 years, SD ± 6.8, range: 18 to 46), and at least six months after delivery, and assessed by semi-quantitative DNA-DNA checkerboard hybridization assay (74 bacterial species). BV was defined by Gram stain (Nugent criteria). Gingivitis was defined as bleeding on probing at ≥ 20% of tooth sites.
Results
A Nugent score of 0–3 (normal vaginal microflora) was found in 83 women (46.1%), and a score of > 7 (BV) in 49 women (27.2%). Gingivitis was diagnosed in 114 women (63.3%). Women with a diagnosis of BV were more likely to have gingivitis (p = 0.01). Independent of gingival conditions, vaginal bacterial counts were higher (p < 0.001) for 38/74 species in BV+ in comparison to BV- women. Counts of four lactobacilli species were higher in BV- women (p < 0.001). Independent of BV diagnosis, women with gingivitis had higher counts of Prevotella bivia (p < 0.001), and Prevotella disiens (p < 0.001). P. bivia, P. disiens, M. curtisii and M. mulieris (all at the p < 0.01 level) were found at higher levels in the BV+/G+ group than in the BV+/G- group. The sum of bacterial load (74 species) was higher in the BV+/G+ group than in the BV+/G- group (p < 0.05). The highest odds ratio for the presence of bacteria in vaginal samples (> 1.0 × 104 cells) and a diagnosis of gingivitis was 3.9 for P. bivia (95% CI 1.5–5.7, p < 0.001) and 3.6 for P. disiens (95%CI: 1.8–7.5, p < 0.001), and a diagnosis of BV for P. bivia (odds ratio: 5.3, 95%CI: 2.6 to 10.4, p < 0.001) and P. disiens (odds ratio: 4.4, 95% CI: 2.2 to 8.8, p < 0.001).
Conclusion
Higher vaginal bacterial counts can be found in women with BV and gingivitis in comparison to women with BV but not gingivitis. P. bivia and P. disiens may be of specific significance in a relationship between vaginal and gingival infections.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-6
PMCID: PMC2637877  PMID: 19161595
11.  Evaluation of amplified rDNA restriction analysis (ARDRA) for the identification of Mycoplasma species 
Background
Mycoplasmas are present worldwide in a large number of animal hosts. Due to their small genome and parasitic lifestyle, Mycoplasma spp. require complex isolation media. Nevertheless, already over 100 different species have been identified and characterized and their number increases as more hosts are sampled. We studied the applicability of amplified rDNA restriction analysis (ARDRA) for the identification of all 116 acknowledged Mycoplasma species and subspecies.
Methods
Based upon available 16S rDNA sequences, we calculated and compared theoretical ARDRA profiles. To check the validity of these theoretically calculated profiles, we performed ARDRA on 60 strains of 27 different species and subspecies of the genus Mycoplasma.
Results
In silico digestion with the restriction endonuclease AluI (AG^CT) was found to be most discriminative and generated from 3 to 13 fragments depending on the Mycoplasma species. Although 73 Mycoplasma species could be differentiated using AluI, other species gave undistinguishable patterns. For these, an additional restriction digestion, typically with BfaI (C^TAG) or HpyF10VI (GCNNNNN^NNGC), was needed for a final identification. All in vitro obtained restriction profiles were in accordance with the calculated fragments based on only one 16S rDNA sequence, except for two isolates of M. columbinum and two isolates of the M. mycoides cluster, for which correct ARDRA profiles were only obtained if the sequences of both rrn operons were taken into account.
Conclusion
Theoretically, restriction digestion of the amplified rDNA was found to enable differentiation of all described Mycoplasma species and this could be confirmed by application of ARDRA on a total of 27 species and subspecies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-5-46
PMCID: PMC1177949  PMID: 15955250

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