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Evaluation of Modulatory Activities of Lactobacillus crispatus Strains in the Context of the Vaginal Microbiota

  • 2022-04-27
  • Microbiology Spectrum 10(2)
    • Chiara Argentini
    • Federico Fontana
    • Giulia Alessandri
    • G. Lugli
    • Leonardo Mancabelli
    • M. C. Ossiprandi
    • D. van Sinderen
    • M. Ventura
    • C. Milani
    • F. Turroni


It has been widely reported that members of the genus Lactobacillus dominate the vaginal microbiota, which is represented by the most prevalent species Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus jensenii, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Lactobacillus iners. L. crispatus is furthermore considered an important microbial biomarker due to its professed beneficial implications on vaginal health. In order to identify molecular mechanisms responsible for health-promoting activities that are believed to be elicited by L. crispatus, we performed in silico investigations of the intraspecies biodiversity of vaginal microbiomes followed by in vitro experiments involving various L. crispatus strains along with other vaginal Lactobacillus species mentioned above. Specifically, we assessed their antibacterial activities against a variety of pathogenic microorganisms that are associated with vaginal infections. Moreover, coculture experiments of L. crispatus strains showing the most antibacterial activity against different pathogens revealed distinct ecological fitness and competitive properties with regard to other microbial colonizers. Interestingly, we observed that even phylogenetically closely related L. crispatus strains possess unique features in terms of their antimicrobial activities and associated competitive abilities, which suggests that they exert marked competition and evolutionary pressure within their specific environmental niche. IMPORTANCE The human vaginal microbiota includes all microorganisms that colonize the vaginal tract. In this context, a vaginal microbiota dominated by Lactobacillus and specifically by Lactobacillus crispatus is considered a hallmark of health. The role of L. crispatus in maintaining host health is linked to its modulatory activity toward other members of the vaginal ecosystem and toward the host. In this study, in vitro experiments followed by genetic analyses of the mechanisms used by L. crispatus in colonizing the vaginal ecological niche, particularly in the production of different antimicrobial compounds, were evaluated, highlighting some intriguing novel aspects concerning the genetic variability of this species. Our results indicate that this species has adapted to its niche and may still undergo adaptation to enhance its competitiveness for niche colonization.

Keywords: Lactobacillus crispatus; antibacterial activities; vaginal microbiota.

Research Insights

SupplementHealth OutcomeEffect TypeEffect Size
Lactobacillus crispatusEnhanced Natural Killer Cell Tumoricidal ActivityBeneficial
Lactobacillus crispatusImproved Antibacterial ActivityBeneficial
Lactobacillus crispatusImproved Niche ColonizationBeneficial

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