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Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology


Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a dysbiosis of the vaginal microbiota, is a common coinfection with Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct), and BV-associated bacteria (BVAB) and their products have been implicated in aiding Ct evade natural immunity. Here, we determined if a non-optimal vaginal microbiota was associated with a higher genital Ct burden and if metronidazole, a standard treatment for BV, would reduce Ct burden or aid in natural clearance of Ct infection. Cervicovaginal samples were collected from women at enrollment and, if testing positive for Ct infection, at a follow-up visit approximately one week later. Cervical Ct burden was assessed by inclusion forming units (IFU) and Ct genome copy number (GCN), and 16S rRNA gene sequencing was used to determine the composition of the vaginal microbiota. We observed a six-log spectrum of IFU and an eight-log spectrum of GCN in our study participants at their enrollment visit, but BV, as indicated by Amsel’s criteria, Nugent scoring, or VALENCIA community state typing, did not predict infectious and total Ct burden, although IFU ; GCN increased with Amsel and Nugent scores and in BV-like community state types. Ct burden was, however, associated with the abundance of bacterial species in the vaginal microbiota, negatively with Lactobacillus crispatus and positively with Prevotella bivia. Women diagnosed with BV were treated with metronidazole, and Ct burden was significantly reduced in those who resolved BV with treatment. A subset of women naturally cleared Ct infection in the interim, typified by low Ct burden at enrollment and resolution of BV. Abundance of many BVAB decreased, and Lactobacillus increased, in response to metronidazole treatment, but no changes in abundances of specific vaginal bacteria were unique to women who spontaneously cleared Ct infection.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.