Vaginal Microbiota

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2016;902:83-93. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-31248-4_6.


The knowledge about the normal and abnormal vaginal microbiome has changed over the last years. Culturing techniques are not suitable any more for determination of a normal or abnormal vaginal microbiota. Non culture-based modern technologies revealed a complex and dynamic system mainly dominated by lactobacilli.The normal and the abnormal vaginal microbiota are complex ecosystems of more than 200 bacterial species influenced by genes, ethnic background and environmental and behavioral factors. Several species of lactobacilli per individuum dominate the healthy vagina. They support a defense system together with antibacterial substances, cytokines, defensins and others against dysbiosis, infections and care for an normal pregnancy without preterm birth.The numbers of Lactobacillus (L.) iners increase in the case of dysbiosis.Bacterial vaginosis (BV) - associated bacteria (BVAB), Atopobium vaginae and Clostridiales and one or two of four Gardnerella vaginalis - strains develop in different mixtures and numbers polymicrobial biofilms on the vaginal epithelium, which are not dissolved by antibiotic therapies according to guidelines and, thus, provoke recurrences.Aerobic vaginitis seems to be an immunological disorder of the vagina with influence on the microbiota, which is here dominated by aerobic bacteria (Streptococcus agalactiae, Escherichia coli). Their role in AV is unknown.Vaginal or oral application of lactobacilli is obviously able to improve therapeutic results of BV and dysbiosis.

Keywords: Aerobic vaginitis; Bacterial vaginosis; Dysbiosis; Lactobacilli; Probiotics; Vaginal microbiota.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Clostridiales / pathogenicity
  • Clostridiales / physiology
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Dysbiosis / pathology
  • Dysbiosis / therapy*
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity
  • Escherichia coli / physiology
  • Female
  • Gardnerella vaginalis / pathogenicity
  • Gardnerella vaginalis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus / physiology*
  • Microbiota / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / prevention & control
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / pathogenicity
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / physiology
  • Vagina / microbiology*
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / pathology
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / therapy*