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Vaginal microbiota composition and association with prevalent Chlamydia trachomatis infection: a cross-sectional study of young women attending a STI clinic in France
  1. Jeanne Tamarelle1,
  2. Bertille de Barbeyrac2,
  3. Isabelle Le Hen3,
  4. Anne Thiébaut1,
  5. Cécile Bébéar2,
  6. Jacques Ravel4,
  7. Elisabeth Delarocque-Astagneau1
  1. 1 Biostatistics, Biomathematics, Pharmacoepidemiology and Infectious Diseases (B2PhI), Université Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, INSERM, Institut Pasteur, Université Paris-Saclay, Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France
  2. 2 USC EA 3671 Mycoplasmal and chlamydial infections in humans, Universite de Bordeaux, French National Reference Center for Bacterial STIs, Bordeaux University Hospital, Bordeaux, France
  3. 3 Maison Départementale de la Santé, Free Center of Information, Screening and Diagnosis of Sexually Transmitted Infections (CeGIDD), Bordeaux, France
  4. 4 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Jeanne Tamarelle, Biostatistics, Biomathematics, Pharmacoepidemiology, and Infectious Diseases, Institut Pasteur, Montigny-le-Bretonneux 78180, France; jeanne.tamarelle{at}


Objectives New molecular techniques have allowed describing groups of bacterial communities in the vagina (community state types (CST)) that could play an important role in Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) infection. Our aim was to describe the distribution of CST in a population of young women in France.

Methods A cross-sectional study was carried out in June 2015 among anonymous young women attending a STI clinic in Bordeaux, France. Participants provided a vaginal sample for CT screening and sociodemographic data. CT was diagnosed using the Aptima-combo 2 transcription-mediated-amplification assay. Vaginal microbiota composition was characterised using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing.

Results Microbiota composition and CT status were available for 132 women. CST dominated by Lactobacillus crispatus (CST-I), L. iners (CST-III) and a diversity of anaerobes (CST-IV) represented 37.1%, 38.6% and 22.0% of the sample, respectively. Twenty-one out of 132 women were CT positive. Proportions of CT-positive women were higher for samples belonging to CST-III (21.6%) and CST-IV (17.2%) than to CST-I (8.2%).

Conclusions Five CST were found in 132 young women from a STI clinic in France. These CSTs were not significantly associated with CT but higher proportions of CT-positive women were found in CST-III and CST-IV, consistent with a previous study in the Netherlands. Though our study lacked statistical power and was cross-sectional, it is a necessary first step to understand the structure of the vaginal microbiota in French women with or without infection before performing in-depth longitudinal studies.

  • community state type
  • lactobacillus
  • 16S rRNA gene
  • microbiota
  • microbial consortia
  • chlamydia trachomatis
  • (bacterial) sexually transmitted infections
  • vagina
  • bacterial vaginosis

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  • Handling editor Jackie A Cassell

  • Contributors JT was a major contributor in data analysis, with support from AT, JR and ED-A. JT wrote the manuscript. BdB, ILH, CB and ED-A were major contributors in the conception of the study. BdB and JR were major contributors in biological and bioinformatics analyses. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This study was funded by the 2013 Institut National du Cancer, Institut de Recherche en Santé Publique (INCa-IReSP) call for projects ‘Recherche Prévention Primaire’ (Reference number: A15012LS).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval CNIL registration number: 1928790.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.