Changes in the Cervical Microbiota of Women with Different High-Risk Human Papillomavirus Loads

Milena Camargo, Laura Vega, Marina Muñoz, Ricardo Sánchez, Manuel Elkin Patarroyo, Juan David Ramírez, Manuel Alfonso Patarroyo

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1 Scopus citations


The cervical microbiota is essential in female sexual health, and its altered states seem to have a central role in the dynamic of high-risk papillomavirus (hrHPV) infections. This study aimed to evaluate the variation in bacterial communities’ compositions according to hrHPV. We collected two samples per woman, with a difference of 12 ± 1 months between them, and performed a follow-up on 66 of these women. The viral load (VL) of the hrHPV was estimated by quantitative PCR (qPCR), then it was normalized (using the HMBS gene as reference) and transformed to the Log10 scale to facilitate the interpretation. The VL was categorized as Negative, without hrHPV copies; Low, less than 100 hrHPV copies; Medium, between 100 to 102 hrHPV copies; and High, >102 hrHPV copies. The microbiota composition was described through the Illumina Novaseq PE250 platform. The diversity analyses revealed changes regarding the hrHPV VL, where women with low VL (<100 hrHPV copies) presented high diversity. The community state type (CST) IV was the most common. However, in women with high VL, a lower association with Lactobacillus depletion was found. Lactobacillus gallinarum and L. iners were the most abundant species in women with high VL, whereas women with low VL had a 6.06 greater probability of exhibiting Lactobacillus dominance. We identified conspicuous differences in the abundance of 78 bacterial genera between women with low and high VL, where 26 were depleted (e.g., Gardnerella) and 52 increased (e.g., Mycoplasma). A multilevel mixed-effects linear regression showed changes in the diversity due to the interaction between the measurement time and the VL, with a decrease in diversity in the second follow-up in women with low VL (Coeff. = 0.47), whereas the women with medium VL displayed an increase in diversity (Coeff. = 0.58). Here, we report for the first time that the cervical microbiota is influenced by the number of copies of hrHPV, where a decrease in the abundance of Lactobacillus, greater diversity, and enrichment of bacterial taxa is relevant in women with low VL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2674
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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