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J Infect Dis. 2001 Dec 1;184(11):1431-6. Epub 2001 Oct 30.

Factors associated with acquisition of, or persistent colonization by, vaginal lactobacilli: role of hydrogen peroxide production.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Pittsburgh, and Magee-Womens Research Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213-3180, USA.


To identify factors that predict sustained colonization by vaginal lactobacilli, microbiologic, behavioral, and demographic data were obtained from 101 nonpregnant women at baseline and at 4 and 8 months. A total of 272 isolates of lactobacilli were identified to the species level by use of whole chromosomal DNA homology to type strains. The predominant lactobacilli were the species Lactobacillus crispatus (38%) and L. jensenii (41%). Of 57 women initially colonized by H(2)O(2)-producing L. crispatus or L. jensenii, 23 (40%) remained colonized over 8 months, compared with 1 (5%) of 21 women colonized by other H(2)O(2)-producing species or by H(2)O(2)-negative strains (P=.01). Frequency of sexual intercourse (> or =1 sex act per week) was associated with loss of colonization with H(2)O(2)-producing lactobacilli (P=.018), as was antibiotic use (P< or =.0001). Other behavioral and demographic characteristics did not predict sustained colonization. The production of H(2)O(2) is closely linked with species and is a predictor for sustained long-term colonization of the vagina.

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