Study into the metabolic ‘signature’ of vaginas with BV

A 2015 study[1. Metabolic signatures of bacterial vaginosis, by Sujatha Srinivasan, Martin T. Morgan, Tina L. Fiedler, Danijel Djukovic, Noah G. Hoffman, Daniel Raftery, Jeanne M. Marrazzo, David N. Fredricks, mBio
(2015), Volume: 6, Issue: 2, Publisher: American Society for Microbiology] into the metabolic footprint of bacterial vaginosis has found that metabolically, BV vaginas differ ‘dramatically’ from healthy vaginas.

The primary study
The researchers compared metabolite profiles from cervicovaginal fluids from 40 women with BV and 20 women without BV. There were 279 named biochemicals – 62 per cent of metabolites were significantly different in women with BV. ‘Unsupervised clustering’ of metabolites separated the women with BV from the non-BV.

Women with BV have metabolite profiles that have lower concentrations of amino acids and dipeptides, along with higher amino acid catabolites and polyamines. An inflammation biomarker was also present (signalling eicosanoid 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12-HETE)) was noted. Two lactobacilli species (L. crispatus and L. jensenii) exhibit this type of metabolite profile, but these were distinct from BV-associated bacteria.

Some metabolites were associated with clinical signs and symptoms (Amsel criteria) for BV diagnosis, and no metabolite was associated with all clinical criteria. BV was associated with a strong signature affecting amino acids, carbohydrates, and lipid metabolism. Some of the bacteria found has yet to be cultivated.

BV has very strong metabolic signatures across multiple pathways, which are associated with concentrations of certain bacteria. This gives us clues as to the community composition, and would be helpful in choosing a more effective treatment for women.


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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)