Altered Innate Immunity and Damaged Epithelial Integrity in Vaginal Microbial Dysbiosis

Ryan K. Cheu, Avid Mohammadi, Luca Schifanella, Courtney A Broedlow, Connor B. Driscoll, Charlene J. Miller, R. Keith Reeves, Mark H. Yudin, Tiffany Hensley-McBain, Rupert Kaul, Nichole R. Klatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The role of neutrophils relative to vaginal dysbiosis is unclear. We hypothesize that bacterial vaginosis (BV)-associated bacteria may induce the activation and accumulation of mucosal neutrophils within the female reproductive tract (FRT), resulting in epithelial barrier damage. We collected endocervical cytobrushes from women with and without BV and assessed bacteria community type and frequency/functional phenotypes of neutrophils. We performed in vitro whole blood co-cultures with BV-associated bacteria and healthy vaginal commensals and assessed their impact on epithelial integrity using transepithelial electrical resistance. We demonstrated increased neutrophil frequency (p < 0.0001), activation (p < 0.0001), and prolonged lifespan (p < 0.0001) in the cytobrushes from women with non-Lactobacillus dominant (nLD) communities. Our in vitro co-cultures confirmed these results and identified significant barrier damage in the presence of neutrophils and G. vaginalis. Here, we demonstrate that BV-associated bacteria induce neutrophil activation and increase lifespan, potentially causing accumulation in the FRT and epithelial barrier damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number876729
JournalFrontiers in Reproductive Health
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Cheu, Mohammadi, Schifanella, Broedlow, Driscoll, Miller, Reeves, Yudin, Hensley-McBain, Kaul and Klatt.


  • bacterial vaginosis
  • epithelial barrier damage
  • female reproductive tract
  • neutrophils
  • vaginal microbe
  • women health

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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