Prevotella as a Hub for Vaginal Microbiota Under the Influence of Host Genetics and Their Association With Obesity

Cell Host Microbe. 2017 Jan 11;21(1):97-105. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2016.11.010. Epub 2016 Dec 22.


While the vaginal ecosystem is maintained through mutualistic relationships between the host and the vaginal bacteria, the effect of host genetics on the vaginal microbiota has not been well characterized. We examined the heritability of vaginal microbiota and its association with obesity in 542 Korean females, including 222 monozygotic and 56 dizygotic twins. The vaginal microbiota significantly varied depending on host menopausal status and bacterial vaginosis. Lactobacillus and Prevotella, whose relative abundances are strongly associated with bacterial vaginosis, were the most heritable bacteria among the beneficial and potentially pathogenic vaginal microbiota, respectively. Candidate gene analysis revealed an association between genetic variants of interleukin-5 and the abundance of Prevotella sp. Furthermore, host obesity significantly increased the diversity of the vaginal microbiota in association with Prevotella. Our results provide insight into the effect of host genetics on the vaginal microbiota and their association with both vaginal and non-vaginal health.

Keywords: Lactobacillus; Prevotella; heritability; host genetics; obesity; twins; vaginal microbiome.

MeSH terms

  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-5 / genetics*
  • Lactobacillus / classification*
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification
  • Microbiota / genetics*
  • Obesity / microbiology*
  • Prevotella / classification*
  • Prevotella / isolation & purification
  • Republic of Korea
  • Vagina / microbiology*
  • Women's Health


  • IL5 protein, human
  • Interleukin-5