Berggrund M, Gustavsson I, Aarnio R, Lindberg JH, Sanner K, Wikström I, Enroth S, Bunikis I, Olovsson M, Gyllensten U
Virol J 17 (1) 147 [2020-10-07; online 2020-10-07]
The vaginal microbiota has been reported to be associated with HPV infection and cervical cancer. This study was performed to compare the vaginal microbiota at two timepoints in women performing self-sampling and had a persistent or transient HPV16 infection. The women were tested for 12 high-risk HPV (hrHPV) types but only women with single type (HPV16) were included to reduce confounding variables. In total 96 women were included in this study. Of these, 26 were single positive for HPV16 in the baseline test and HPV negative in the follow-up test and 38 were single positive for HPV16 in both tests and diagnosed with CIN2+ in histology. In addition, 32 women that were negative for all 12 HPV tested were included. The samples of vaginal fluid were analyzed with the Ion 16S™ Metagenomics Kit and Ion 16S™ metagenomics module within the Ion Reporter™ software. K-means clustering resulted in two Lactobacillus-dominated groups, one with Lactobacillus sp. and the other specifically with Lactobacillus iners. The two remaining clusters were dominated by a mixed non-Lactobacillus microbiota. HPV negative women had lower prevalence (28%) of the non-Lactobacill dominant cluster in the baseline test, as compared to women with HPV16 infection (42%) (p value = 0.0173). Transition between clusters were more frequent in women with persistent HPV16 infection (34%) as compared in women who cleared the HPV16 infection (19%) (p value = 0.036). The vaginal microbiota showed a higher rate of transitioning between bacterial profiles in women with persistent HPV16 infection as compared to women with transient infection. This indicate an instability in the microenvironment in women with persistent HPV infection and development of CIN2+.