Objective: Bacterial vaginosis is a common infectious disorder. Although known since ancient times, little progress has occurred in identifying causal factors. Our aims were to study the bacterial community structure and the spatial organization of microbiota on the epithelial surfaces of vaginal biopsy specimens.
Methods: We investigated the composition and spatial organization of bacteria associated with the vaginal epithelium in biopsy specimens from 20 patients with bacterial vaginosis and 40 normal premenopausal and postmenopausal controls using a broad range of fluorescent bacterial group-specific rRNA-targeted oligonucleotide probes.
Results: Bacterial vaginosis was associated with greater occurrence and higher concentrations of a variety of bacterial groups. However, only Gardnerella vaginalis developed a characteristic adherent biofilm that was specific for bacterial vaginosis.
Conclusion: A biofilm comprised of confluent G vaginalis with other bacterial groups incorporated in the adherent layer is a prominent feature of bacterial vaginosis.
Level of evidence: II-2.