The vaginal virome-balancing female genital tract bacteriome, mucosal immunity, and sexual and reproductive health outcomes?

Anna Ursul Happel, Arvind Varsani, Christina Balle, Jo Ann Passmore, Heather Jaspan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Besides bacteria, fungi, protists and archaea, the vaginal ecosystem also contains a range of prokaryote- and eukaryote-infecting viruses, which are collectively referred to as the virome . Despite its well-described role in the gut and other environmental niches, the vaginal virome remains understudied. With a focus on sexual and reproductive health, we summarize the currently known components of the vaginal virome, its relationship with other constituents of the vaginal microbiota and its association with adverse health outcomes. While a range of eukaryote-infecting viruses has been described to be present in the female genital tract (FGT), few prokaryote-infecting viruses have been described. Literature suggests that various vaginal viruses interact with vaginal bacterial microbiota and host immunity and that any imbalance thereof may contribute to the risk of adverse reproductive health outcomes, including infertility and adverse birth outcomes. Current limitations of vaginal virome research include experimental and analytical constraints. Considering the vaginal virome may represent the missing link in our understanding of the relationship between FGT bacteria, mucosal immunity, and adverse sexual and reproductive health outcomes, future studies evaluating the vaginal microbiome and its population dynamics holistically will be important for understanding the role of the vaginal virome in balancing health and disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number832
JournalViruses
Volume12
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Keywords

  • Adverse birth outcomes
  • Bacteriome
  • Female genital tract
  • Host immunity
  • Microbiota
  • Vaginal virome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology

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