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J Med Microbiol. 2007 Jun;56(Pt 6):755-61.

Rapid characterization of the normal and disturbed vaginal microbiota by application of 16S rRNA gene terminal RFLP fingerprinting.

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  • 1Institute of Medical Microbiology, Otto-von-Guericke-University Magdeburg, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany. frank.thies@medizin.uni-magdeburg.de


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a prevalent infection in women of reproductive age associated with numerous sequelae, including preterm delivery, amniotic fluid infections and an increased risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases. The vaginal microbiota in BV patients is characterized by a shift from lactobacilli to a diverse spectrum of mostly anaerobic bacteria. In this study, terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP) was used to characterize the vaginal bacterial communities from 50 women with BV and 20 healthy subjects. In the BV samples, 23 species or phylotypes from 17 genera could be identified, including Atopobium vaginae, Megasphaera sp., Lactobacillus iners, Gardnerella vaginalis and three recently described phylotypes from the order Clostridiales. The number of detected species or phylotypes was on average 6.3 per sample (range 2-14). In contrast, in normal samples, only Lactobacillus species could be identified. In conclusion, T-RFLP provides a rapid and reliable technique to investigate the diversity of the predominant vaginal microbiota and allows differentiation of the flora of BV and healthy women. As such, T-RFLP may be helpful both in the diagnosis of BV from vaginal fluids and in a better understanding of the bacterial succession involved in the aetiology of BV.

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