Background: The sequence of events preceding incident bacterial vaginosis (iBV) is unclear.
Methods: African American women who have sex with women, who had no Amsel criteria and Nugent scores of 0-3, were followed for 90 days to detect iBV (defined as a Nugent score of 7-10 on at least 2-3 consecutive days), using self-collected vaginal swab specimens. For women with iBV (cases) and women maintaining normal vaginal flora (healthy women), 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequencing targeting V4 was performed. Longitudinal vaginal microbiome data were analyzed.
Results: Of 204 women screened, 42 enrolled; of these, 45% developed iBV. Sequencing was performed on 448 specimens from 14 cases and 8 healthy women. Among healthy women, Lactobacillus crispatus dominated the vaginal microbiota in 75%. In contrast, prior to iBV, the vaginal microbiota in 79% of cases was dominated by Lactobacillus iners and/or Lactobacillus jensenii/Lactobacillus gasseri. The mean relative abundance of Prevotella bivia, Gardnerella vaginalis, Atopobium vaginae, and Megasphaera type I became significantly higher in cases 4 days before (P. bivia), 3 days before (G. vaginalis), and on the day of (A. vaginae and Megasphaera type I) iBV onset. The mean relative abundance of Sneathia sanguinegens, Finegoldia magna, BV-associated bacteria 1-3, and L. iners was not significantly different between groups before onset of iBV.
Conclusion: G. vaginalis, P. bivia, A. vaginae, and Megasphaera type I may play significant roles in iBV.