Impact of Oral Metronidazole Treatment on the Vaginal Microbiota and Correlates of Treatment Failure

Verwijs, MC, Agaba, SK, Darby, AC ORCID: 0000-0002-3786-6209 and Van De Wijgert, JHHM ORCID: 0000-0003-2728-4560
(2020) Impact of Oral Metronidazole Treatment on the Vaginal Microbiota and Correlates of Treatment Failure. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 222 (2). 157.e1-157.e13.

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Background Metronidazole is the first-line treatment for bacterial vaginosis, but cure rates are suboptimal and recurrence rates high. Objectives To evaluate the impact of a standard course of oral metronidazole treatment (500 mg twice per day for 7 days) on the vaginal microbiota of Rwandan bacterial vaginosis patients using microscopy and 16S rRNA gene sequencing, and to evaluate correlates of treatment failure. Study Design HIV-negative, nonpregnant women aged 18–45 years with bacterial vaginosis and/or Trichomonas vaginalis (N=68) were interviewed and sampled before and after metronidazole treatment. They were also screened, and treated if applicable, for other urogenital infections. The vaginal microbiota was assessed by Gram stain Nugent scoring, Illumina 16S rRNA HiSeq sequencing (relative abundances), and BactQuant 16S gene quantitative polymerase chain reaction (estimated concentrations). Only women with a pretreatment Nugent score of 7–10 and a valid posttreatment Nugent score (N=55) were included in metronidazole treatment failure analyses, with treatment failure defined as a posttreatment Nugent score of 4–10. Results The bacterial vaginosis cure rate by Nugent scoring was 54.5%. The mean total vaginal bacterial concentration declined from 6.59 to 5.85 log10/μL (P<.001), which was mostly due to a reduction in mean bacterial vaginosis-associated anaerobes concentration (all bacterial vaginosis-associated anaerobe taxa combined) from 6.23 to 4.55 log10/μL (P<.001). However, only 16.4% of women had a bacterial vaginosis anaerobes concentration reduction of more than 50%, and only 3 women had complete eradication. The mean concentration of lactobacilli (all species combined) increased from 4.98 to 5.56 log10/μL (P=.017), with L. iners being the most common species pre- and posttreatment. The mean concentration of pathobionts (defined as Proteobacteria, streptococci, staphylococci, enterococci, and a few others) did not change significantly: from 1.92 log10/μL pretreatment to 2.01 log10/μL posttreatment (P=.939). Pretreatment pathobionts concentration, and having a pretreatment vaginal microbiota type containing more than 50% Gardnerella vaginalis (compared with less than 50%), were associated with increased likelihood of treatment failure, but the latter did not reach statistical significance (P=.044 and P=.084, respectively). Conclusions Metronidazole alone may not cure women with high G. vaginalis relative abundance, potentially due to biofilm presence, and women with high pathobionts concentration. These women may benefit from additional biofilm-disrupting and/or pathobiont-targeting treatments.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 16S rRNA gene sequencing, anaerobes, antibiotics, bacterial vaginosis, biofilm, Lactobacilli, metronidazole, trichomoniasis, vaginal dysbiosis, vaginal microbiota
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2019 08:38
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2023 00:31
DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2019.08.008
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