Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2021 Apr 23;12:662725. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2021.662725. eCollection 2021.
BACKGROUND: Previous studies suggest that the vaginal microbiome is associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). However, the clinical manifestations of PCOS are heterogeneous. Whether the vaginal microbiome is related with different clinical symptoms was unknown.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: In this cross-sectional study, 89 female patients with PCOS admitted to Zhongda Hospital (Nanjing, China) were included. Basic demographic information, health-related behaviors, clinical manifestations and sex hormone levels were comprehensively recorded for all patients. Vaginal swabs were acquired for microbiota sequencing of the V3-V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene.
RESULTS: The prevalence of bacterial vaginitis and vulvovaginal candidiasis was 15.7% and 13.5%, respectively, within the PCOS patients, which were the most important factors affecting the vaginal microbiome (permutational multivariate analysis of variance test, R2 = 0.108, P = 0.001). The vaginal microbiome was associated with specific clinical manifestations of PCOS, including acanthosis nigricans, intermenstrual bleeding, pregnancy history, testosterone level and anti-müllerian hormone level, with P values < 0.05. The abundance of Lactobacillus crispatus was higher (P = 0.010) while that of Lactobacillus iners was lower (P = 0.036) among PCOS patients with elevated testosterone levels. Other potential bacterial biomarkers were not statistically significant after adjusting for confounding factors. No evidence of associations of other common manifestations of PCOS, such as obesity and acne, with the vaginal microbiome was obtained.
CONCLUSION: Vaginal bacterial species among PCOS patients with variable clinical manifestations, especially differences in testosterone levels, are distinct. Further studies are essential to investigate the microbiota and molecular mechanisms underpinning this disease.