Contributions of the maternal oral and gut microbiome to placental microbial colonization in overweight and obese pregnant women

Sci Rep. 2017 Jun 6;7(1):2860. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-03066-4.


A distinct bacterial signature of the placenta was reported, providing evidence that the fetus does not develop in a sterile environment. The oral microbiome was suggested as a possible source of the bacterial DNA present in the placenta based on similarities to the oral non-pregnant microbiome. Here, the possible origin of the placental microbiome was assessed, examining the gut, oral and placental microbiomes from the same pregnant women. Microbiome profiles from 37 overweight and obese pregnant women were examined by 16SrRNA sequencing. Fecal and oral contributions to the establishment of the placental microbiome were evaluated. Core phylotypes between body sites and metagenome predictive functionality were determined. The placental microbiome showed a higher resemblance and phylogenetic proximity with the pregnant oral microbiome. However, similarity decreased at lower taxonomic levels and microbiomes clustered based on tissue origin. Core genera: Prevotella, Streptococcus and Veillonella were shared between all body compartments. Pathways encoding tryptophan, fatty-acid metabolism and benzoate degradation were highly enriched specifically in the placenta. Findings demonstrate that the placental microbiome exhibits a higher resemblance with the pregnant oral microbiome. Both oral and gut microbiomes contribute to the microbial seeding of the placenta, suggesting that placental colonization may have multiple niche sources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Metagenome
  • Metagenomics / methods
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • Obesity / etiology*
  • Overweight / etiology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Placenta / microbiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*


  • Biomarkers