, Volume 22, Issue 10, pp 1055-1060
Date: 09 Aug 2006

Assessment of Lactobacillus species colonizing the vagina of apparently healthy Nigerian women, using PCR-DGGE and 16S rRNA gene sequencing

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The identity of lactobacilli colonizing Africa-American women, have previously been based on culture-dependent methods. This led to some misleading speculations that black women lack lactobacilli in their vagina and are therefore highly susceptible to Bacterial vaginosis and STDs including HIV. In this study we used culture-independent procedures.About 241 vaginal swabs were obtained from ‘apparently’ healthy premenopausal women, between 18 and 48 years. Samples were Gram stained for the Nugent score evaluation. DNA was extracted from the bacteria on the vaginal swabs and amplified using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), with Lactobacillus primers. Samples with PCR products were separated with denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) and cut bands were re-amplified with Lactobacillus primers without the GC clamp. The re-amplified product was purified and sequenced with ABI PRISM Big-Dye Terminator. The sequence was identified with BLAST algorithm having the highest Gene Bank Accession number.

Out of the 241 vaginal swab samples, 207 (85.8%) had PCR products, indicating the presence of lactobacilli, while 34 (14.2%) showed absence of lactobacilli and the Nugent scores were synonymous to either intermediate bacterial vaginosis or bacterial vaginosis (BV). Out of the 207 samples that had PCR product for Lactobacillus, 149 (72%) had sequence results as revealed by the BLAST algorithm. Most of the women (64%) were colonized by Lactobacillus iners as the predominant strain. Lactobacillus gasseri had 7.3%, followed by L. plantarum and L suntoryeus (6.0%) each. Others were colonized by Lactobacillus crispatus (3.0%), Lactobacillus rhamnosus (2.7%), Lactobacillus vaginalis (2.7%), Lactobacillus rennanqilfy (2.7%), followed by Lactobacillus fermentum (1.3%), Lactobacillus helveticus (1.3%), Lactobacillus johnsonii (1.3%) and Lactobacillus salivarus (1.3%). To our knowledge, this is the first report of Lactobacillus iners being the predominant species colonizing the vagina of the Nigerian women examined. This finding is in line with those from a recent study conducted among Canadian and Swedish women.