Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is a pervasive neonatal pathogen accounting for a combined half a million deaths and stillbirths annually. The most common source of fetal or neonatal GBS exposure is the maternal microbiota. GBS asymptomatically colonizes the gastrointestinal and vaginal mucosa of 1 in 5 individuals globally, although its precise role in these niches is not well understood. To prevent vertical transmission, broad-spectrum antibiotics are administered to GBS-positive mothers during labor in many countries. Although antibiotics have significantly reduced GBS early-onset neonatal disease, there are several unintended consequences, including an altered neonatal microbiota and increased risk for other microbial infections. Additionally, the incidence of late-onset GBS neonatal disease remains unaffected and has sparked an emerging hypothesis that GBS-microbe interactions in developing neonatal gut microbiota may be directly involved in this disease process. This review summarizes our current understanding of GBS interactions with other resident microbes at the mucosal surface from multiple angles, including clinical association studies, agriculture and aquaculture observations, and experimental animal model systems. We also include a comprehensive review of in vitro findings of GBS interactions with other bacterial and fungal microbes, both commensal and pathogenic, along with newly established animal models of GBS vaginal colonization and in utero or neonatal infection. Finally, we provide a perspective on emerging areas of research and current strategies to design microbe-targeting prebiotic or probiotic therapeutic intervention strategies to prevent GBS disease in vulnerable populations.
Keywords: Streptococcus agalactiae; group B Streptococcus; microbe-microbe interactions; probiotic; vaginal microbiota.