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Objective: To evaluate whether ethnicity is independently associated with vaginal microbiota (VMB) composition in women living in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, as has been shown for American women. Methods: Women (18-34 years, non-pregnant, N = 610) representing the six largest ethnic groups (Dutch, African Surinamese, South-Asian Surinamese, Turkish, Moroccan, and Ghanaian) were sampled from the population-based HELIUS study. Sampling was performed irrespective of health status or healthcare seeking behavior. DNA was extracted from self-sampled vaginal swabs and sequenced by Illumina MiSeq (16S rRNA gene V3-V4 region). Results: The overall prevalence of VMBs not dominated by lactobacilli was 38.5%: 32.2% had a VMB resembling bacterial vaginosis and another 6.2% had a VMB dominated by Bifidobacteriaceae (not including Gardnerella vaginalis), Corynebacterium, or pathobionts (streptococci, staphylococci, Proteus or Enterobacteriaceae). The most prevalent VMB in ethnically Dutch women was a Lactobacillus crispatus-dominated VMB, in African Surinamese and Ghanaian women a polybacterial G. vaginalis-containing VMB, and in the other ethnic groups a L. iners-dominated VMB. After adjustment for sociodemographic, behavioral and clinical factors, African Surinamese ethnicity (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 5.1, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.1-12.0) and Ghanaian ethnicity (aOR 4.8, 95% CI 1.8-12.6) were associated with having a polybacterial G. vaginalis-containing VMB, and African Surinamese ethnicity with a L. iners-dominated VMB (aOR 2.8, 95% CI 1.2-6.2). Shorter steady relationship duration, inconsistent condom use with casual partners, and not using hormonal contraception were also associated with having a polybacterial G. vaginalis-containing VMB, but human papillomavirus infection was not. Other sexually transmitted infections were uncommon. Conclusions: The overall prevalence of having a VMB not dominated by lactobacilli in this populationbased cohort of women aged 18-34 years in Amsterdam was high (38.5%), and women of sub-Saharan African descent were significantly more likely to have a polybacterial G. vaginalis- containing VMB than Dutch women independent of modifiable behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0181135
Pages (from-to)e0181135
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

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