Detection of Methanobrevibacter smithii in vaginal samples collected from women diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis

  • Ghiles Grine
  • Hortense Drouet
  • Florence Fenollar
  • Florence Bretelle
  • Didier Raoult
  • Michel DrancourtEmail author
Original Article


Vaginosis is a dysbiotic condition of the vaginal cavity that has deleterious effects during pregnancy. The role of methanogens in this disease is unknown since current methods of investigation are not appropriate for the search of methanogens. We prospectively investigated the presence of methanogens in vaginal specimens collected from 33 women thereafter diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis and 92 women thereafter diagnosed without bacterial vaginosis (control group) by direct microscopic examination and fluorescent in situ hybridization, PCR-sequencing, and real-time PCR and isolation and culture. These investigations found only one methanogen, Methanobrevibacter smithii, exclusively in 97% bacterial vaginosis specimens and in two intermediate microbiota specimens. M. smithii was detected microscopically in 2/20 specimens analyzed, by PCR-based observations in 34/125 specimens with 99% sequence similarity with the reference 16S rRNA and mcrA gene sequences and was cultured in 9/40 specimens. These data suggest that the detection of M. smithii could be used as a biomarker for the laboratory diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis.


Diagnosis Methanobrevibacter smithii Methanogens Vaginosis 



The authors thank Magdalen Lardière for English correction.

Authors’ contribution

GG performed detection of methanogens, analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript. HD took care of the patients and collected specimens. FF designed the study, analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript. FB designed the study and took care of the patients. DR designed the study, analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript. MD designed the study, analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript.

All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding information

This study was funded by the IHU Méditerranée Infection, Marseille, France.

GG benefits from a PhD grant from the Fondation Méditerranée Infection, Marseille, France. This work was supported by the French Government under the «Investissements d’avenir» (Investments for the Future) program managed by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR, fr: National Agency for Research), (reference: Méditerranée Infection 10-IAHU-03).

This work was supported by Région Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur and European funding FEDER PA 0000319 IHUBIOTK.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

GG, FF, DR, and MD are co-inventors of a patent on the molecular detection of M. smithii for the diagnosis of BV.

Ethical approval

The study was authorized by the local Institut Fédératif de Recherche 48 Ethics Committee (Marseille, France) under agreement number 09-022.

Informed consent

All patients studied in this report have signed an informed consent.

Supplementary material

10096_2019_3592_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ghiles Grine
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hortense Drouet
    • 3
  • Florence Fenollar
    • 3
  • Florence Bretelle
    • 4
  • Didier Raoult
    • 1
    • 2
  • Michel Drancourt
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.MEPHI, IRD, IHU Méditerranée InfectionAix Marseille UniversityMarseilleFrance
  2. 2.IHU Méditerranée Infection, UMR MEPHIMarseilleFrance
  3. 3.VITROME, IRD, AP-HM, IHU-Méditerranée InfectionAix Marseille UniversityMarseilleFrance
  4. 4.Gynecology Department, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de MarseilleMarseilleFrance

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