Enhanced IgA coating of bacteria in women with Lactobacillus crispatus-dominated vaginal microbiota

Annelot C. Breedveld, Heleen J. Schuster*, Robin van Houdt, Rebecca C. Painter, Reina E. Mebius, Charlotte van der Veer, Sylvia M. Bruisten, Paul H. M. Savelkoul, Marjolein van Egmond

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Immunoglobulin A (IgA) plays an important role in maintaining a healthy intestinal microbiome, but little is known about the interaction between local immunoglobulins and the vaginal microbiome. We assessed immunoglobulins (unbound and bound to bacteria), their association with vaginal microbiota composition and the changes over time in 25 healthy women of reproductive age. Results: In both Lactobacillus crispatus-dominated and non-L. crispatus-dominated microbiota, IgA and IgG (unbound and bound to bacteria) were higher during menses (T = 1) compared to day 7‑11 (T = 2) and day 17‑25 (T = 3) after menses onset. The majority of vaginal bacteria are coated with IgA and/or IgG. Women with L. crispatus-dominated microbiota have increased IgA coating of vaginal bacteria compared to women with other microbiota compositions, but contained less IgA per bacterium. Presence of a dominantly IgA-coated population at T = 2 and/or T = 3 was also strongly associated with L. crispatus-dominated microbiota. In women with non-L. crispatus-dominated microbiota, more bacteria were uncoated. Unbound IgA, unbound IgG, and bound IgG levels were not associated with microbiota composition. Conclusions: In conclusion, L. crispatus-dominated vaginal microbiota have higher levels of bacterial IgA coating compared to non-L. crispatus-dominated vaginal microbiota. Similar to its regulating function in the intestinal tract, we hypothesize that IgA is involved in maintaining L. crispatus-dominated microbiota in the female genital tract. This may play a role in L. crispatus-associated health benefits. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.].
Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022

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