Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether Lactobacillus species found in African women differ substantially to those of white decent, described in previous studies. The vaginal microbiota play an important role in female health, and when the naturally dominant lactobacilli are displaced resulting in bacterial vaginosis (BV), the host is more at risk of acquiring sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
Methods: Vaginal samples were collected from 241 healthy, premenopausal Nigerian women, which were then Gram-stained for Nugent scoring. Microbial DNA was extracted, amplified using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and Lactobacillus primers, and processed by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE). Lactobacillus species were identified by DNA sequencing and BLAST algorithm.
Results: Of the samples, 207 (85.8%) had PCR products for lactobacilli, whereas 34 (14.2%) showed absence of lactobacilli, which correlated to the BV Nugent scores. On sequencing of amplicons, 149 subjects (72%) had sequence homologies to lactobacilli. Most women (64%) were colonized by L. iners as the predominant strain, similar to previous findings in Canadian and Swedish women. L. gasseri was found in 7.3% samples, followed by L. plantarum, L. suntoryeus, L. crispatus, L. rhamnosus, and other species.
Conclusion: The findings indicate that even with geographic, racial, and other differences, the predominant vaginal Lactobacillus species is similar to species in women from Northern countries.