Exploring Microbiota Diversity in Cervical Lesion Progression and HPV Infection through 16S rRNA Gene Metagenomic Sequencing

J Clin Med. 2023 Jul 28;12(15):4979. doi: 10.3390/jcm12154979.


(1) Background: Cervical cancer is a significant health concern, with the main cause being persistent infection with high-risk Human Papillomavirus (hrHPV). There is still no evidence for why viral persistence occurs in some women, but recent studies have revealed the interplay between cervical microbiota and hrHPV. This research aimed to characterize the cervicovaginal microbiota in cervical lesion progression and HPV infection status. (2) Methods: This study included 85 cervical specimens from women from the north-eastern region of Romania. DNA was isolated from cervical secretion for HPV genotyping and 16S ribosomal RNA gene NGS sequencing. (3) Results: Our study revealed a distinct pattern within the studied group when considering Lactobacillus species, which differs from findings reported in other populations. Specifically, the presence of Lactobacillus iners coupled with the absence of Lactobacillus crispatus alongside Atopobium spp., Prevotella spp., and Gardnerella spp. could serve as defining factors for severe cervical lesions. The results also showed a significant association between microbiota diversity, HPV infection, and cervical lesion progression. (4) Conclusions: As the microbiota profile seems to vary among different populations and individuals, a deeper comprehension of its composition has the potential to develop personalized detection and treatment approaches for cervical dysplasia and cancer.

Keywords: HPV infection; cervical cancer; cervicovaginal microbiota; metagenomics; next-generation sequencing.