, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 751-759
Date: 01 Nov 2007

Hormone Therapy Alters the Composition of the Vaginal Microflora in Ovariectomized Rats

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The aim of the present study was to evaluate the alterations that may take place in the bacterial genital tract flora in the absence of ovarian hormones. The role of hormone replacement therapy was also assessed. For this purpose, various bacteria were identified from the vaginal flora of ovariectomized and sham operated female rats, following the Bergey’s manual criteria. The data of this study showed that substantial differences exist in the vaginal bacterial microflora between ovariectomized and normal cyclic rats. Ovariectomy was associated with a lower total bacterial load that may be due mainly to the absence of Lactobacillus. Anaerobic bacteria were also absent. Streptococcus and Enterococcus were also not favored in an environment lacking the ovarian hormones. In contrast, C. perfringens, Bacteroides, S. epidermidis, and S. aureus were detected in high numbers in ovariectomized rats. In terms of the impact of hormone replacement therapy on vaginal flora, only estradiol (EE2) restored Lactobacillus levels in ovariectomized rats, whereas all hormonal schemes used brought Streptococcus, Clostridium lec (−), and C. perfringens, the spore and vegetative forms, close to those detected in normal cyclic female rats. In conclusion, ovarian hormones appeared to be regulatory factors that favor the presence of a broad variety of bacteria, which are members of the normal genital tract flora. On the other hand, ovariectomy modifies the vaginal microbial profile, and hormone replacement therapy based mainly on schemes containing EE2 could alleviate this disturbance.