Vaginal Microbiota Evaluation and Lactobacilli Quantification by qPCR in Pregnant and Non-pregnant Women: A Pilot Study

David Pacha-Herrera, Gabriela Vasco, Cecilia Cruz-Betancourt, Juan Miguel Galarza, Verónica Barragán, António Machado

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18 Scopus citations


Pregnancy outcomes and women's health are directly affected by vaginal microbiota. This microbiota consists of a dynamic ecosystem of various microbes in different ratios, which in healthy conditions protect the vaginal epithelium from infections. However, cases of vaginal infection are regularly diagnosed in women of reproductive age, contributing to more severe outcomes. Therefore, our main goal was to determine the prevalence of bacterial vaginosis (BV), aerobic vaginitis (AV), and vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) among Ecuadorian pregnant and non-pregnant women. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 217 women between 13 and 40 years old seeking primary healthcare in Carlos Andrade Marin Hospital (HCAM), Gynecological-Obstetric Hospital Isidro Ayora (HGOIA) and Center for Teaching Health Cipriana Dueñas during October 2018 to February 2019. The classical characterization of the vaginal microbiota was performed through microscopy by the Nugent criteria to evaluate the presence of BV, healthy and intermediate microbiota, by the criteria of Donders to determine the presence of AV and by the Marot-Leblond criteria to diagnose VVC. DNA extraction from vaginal samples and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) analysis was performed to characterize the presence of Gardnerella spp., Mobiluncus mulieris, Escherichia coli, Enterococcus spp., and Lactobacillus spp. Finally, quantification of the lactobacilli was performed by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) for samples from women with normal vaginal microbiota and women with AV. Our results showed 52% of women with healthy microbiota, 7% with intermediate microbiota, and 41% with vaginal dysbiosis, comprising 27% with AV, 8% with BV and 4% with VVC and 2% with co-infections or co-dysbiosis. Additionally, a higher amount of lactobacilli were found in pregnant women when compared to non-pregnant women, while AV cases were characterized by a significant drop of Lactobacillus spp., more precisely, between 1E3 and 1E5 colony forming units (CFU)/ml. Finally, women with normal vaginal microbiota showed an average load of lactobacilli between 1E6 and 1E7 CFU/ml. This pilot study showed no statistically significant differences between pregnant and non-pregnant women, pointing to the possibility to use lactobacilli quantification for the prevention of future vaginal infections.

Original languageEnglish
Article number303
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
StatePublished - 19 Jun 2020


  • Lactobacillusspp
  • aerobic vaginitis
  • bacterial vaginosis
  • opportunistic pathogen
  • pregnant
  • vaginal infection
  • vaginal microbiota


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