In-depth insights into cervicovaginal microbial communities and hrHPV infections using high-resolution microbiome profiling

Mariano A. Molina, Karolina M. Andralojc, Martijn A. Huynen, William P.J. Leenders, Willem J.G. Melchers

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8 Citations (Scopus)


The cervicovaginal microbiome (CVM) correlates with women’s cervical health, and variations in its composition are associated with high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) infection outcomes. Cervicovaginal microbes have been grouped into five community state types (CSTs) based on microbial community composition and abundance. However, studying the impact of CSTs in health and disease is challenging because the current sequencing technologies have limited confident discrimination between closely related and yet functionally different bacterial species. Circular probe-based RNA sequencing (ciRNAseq) achieves high-resolution microbiome profiling and therefore provides in-depth and unambiguous knowledge about the composition of the CVM. Based on ciRNAseq profiling of a large cohort of cervical smears (n = 541), we here define subgroups of CSTs I, III, and IV based on intra-CST differences with respect to abundances of Lactobacillus acidophilus (CSTs I-A vs. I-B and CSTs III-A vs. III-B), Lactobacillus iners (CSTs I-A vs. I-B and CSTs III-A vs. III-B), and Megasphaera genomosp type 1 (CSTs IV-A vs. IV-B). Our results further support the existence of subgroups of CST IV-C that are dominant for non-Lactobacillus species and have intermediate microbial diversity. We also show that CST V is associated with uninfected conditions, and CST IV-A associates with hrHPV-induced cervical disease. In conclusion, we characterized new subdivisions of cervicovaginal CSTs, which may further advance our understanding of women’s cervical health and hrHPV-related progression to disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number75
JournalNPJ biofilms and microbiomes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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