Progesterone Increases Bifidobacterium Relative Abundance during Late Pregnancy

Cell Rep. 2019 Apr 16;27(3):730-736.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.03.075.


Gestation is accompanied by alterations in the microbial repertoire; however, the mechanisms driving these changes are unknown. Here, we demonstrate a dramatic shift in the gut microbial composition of women and mice during late pregnancy, including an increase in the relative abundance of Bifidobacterium. Using in-vivo-transplanted pellets, we found that progesterone, the principal gestation hormone, affects the microbial community. The effect of progesterone on the richness of several bacteria species, including Bifidobacterium, was also demonstrated in vitro, indicating a direct effect. Altogether, our results delineate a model in which progesterone promotes Bifidobacterium growth during late pregnancy.

Keywords: 16S rRNA; Bifidobacterium; gut microbiota; microbiome; pregnancy; progesterone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Bifidobacterium / genetics
  • Bifidobacterium / growth & development*
  • Bifidobacterium / isolation & purification
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Placebo Effect
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Progesterone / chemistry
  • Progesterone / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Progesterone

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