In humans, the vaginal microbiota is thought to be the first line of defense again pathogens including Chlamydia trachomatis. The guinea pig has been extensively used as a model to study chlamydial infection because it shares anatomical and physiological similarities with humans, such as a squamous vaginal epithelium as well as some of the long-term outcomes caused by chlamydial infection. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the guinea pig-C. caviae model of genital infection as a surrogate for studying the role of the vaginal microbiota in the early steps of C. trachomatis infection in humans. We used culture-independent molecular methods to characterize the relative and absolute abundance of bacterial phylotypes in the guinea pig vaginal microbiota in animals non-infected, mock-infected or infected by C. caviae. We showed that the guinea pig and human vaginal microbiotas are of different bacterial composition and abundance. Chlamydia caviae infection had a profound effect on the absolute abundance of bacterial phylotypes but not on the composition of the guinea pig vaginal microbiota. Our findings compromise the validity of the guinea pig-C. caviae model to study the role of the vaginal microbiota during the early steps of sexually transmitted infection.
Keywords: Chlamydia trachomatis; Lactobacillus; microbiome; model organism; vagina.
© FEMS 2015.