Thirteen percent of pregnancies result in preterm birth or stillbirth, accounting for fifteen million preterm births and three and a half million deaths annually. A significant cause of these adverse pregnancy outcomes is in utero infection by vaginal microorganisms. To establish an in utero infection, vaginal microbes enter the uterus by ascending infection; however, the mechanisms by which this occurs are unknown. Using both in vitro and murine models of vaginal colonization and ascending infection, we demonstrate how a vaginal microbe, group B streptococcus (GBS), which is frequently associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, uses vaginal exfoliation for ascending infection. GBS induces vaginal epithelial exfoliation by activation of integrin and β-catenin signaling. However, exfoliation did not diminish GBS vaginal colonization as reported for other vaginal microbes. Rather, vaginal exfoliation increased bacterial dissemination and ascending GBS infection, and abrogation of exfoliation reduced ascending infection and improved pregnancy outcomes. Thus, for some vaginal bacteria, exfoliation promotes ascending infection rather than preventing colonization. Our study provides insight into mechanisms of ascending infection by vaginal microbes.
Jay Vornhagen, Blair Armistead, Verónica Santana-Ufret, Claire Gendrin, Sean Merillat, Michelle Coleman, Phoenicia Quach, Erica Boldenow, Varchita Alishetti, Christina Leonhard-Melief, Lisa Y. Ngo, Christopher Whidbey, Kelly S. Doran, Chad Curtis, Kristina M. Adams Waldorf, Elizabeth Nance, Lakshmi Rajagopal
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at email@example.com.