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- The impact of lactobacillus and bacteriophage on group b streptococcus and the placental membranes
- Shiroda, Megan
- Electronic Theses & Dissertations
The human microbiota encompasses the microbes that live on and in the human body. While some body sites including the vaginal and intestinal tracts have been studied extensively for their role in human health, other body sites have been historically considered sterile and are less studied. One such site is the placental membranes that surround the fetus during pregnancy and serve as an important protective barrier during pregnancy. Several studies have established which bacteria are found in...
Show moreThe human microbiota encompasses the microbes that live on and in the human body. While some body sites including the vaginal and intestinal tracts have been studied extensively for their role in human health, other body sites have been historically considered sterile and are less studied. One such site is the placental membranes that surround the fetus during pregnancy and serve as an important protective barrier during pregnancy. Several studies have established which bacteria are found in this site, but few studies have been conducted to characterize their interactions in vitro or to understand their impact on the placental membranes. Further, our knowledge of the viral component of the microbiome in human health remains incomplete.In this dissertation, Lactobacillus, a well-studied probiotic in other body sites, was evaluated for its effect in the placental membranes. As these membranes were previously considered sterile, we sought to assess the ability of Lactobacillus to colonize these cells and evaluate its impact on them. A cell line model of the outermost layer of these membranes, the decidual cells, was used to establish that Lactobacillus can associate and impact a known cell signaling pathway, the Mitogen Activated Protein Kinase (MAPK) pathway, which is associated with inflammation and host cell death. Total protein level of p38, an important upstream protein in this pathway, was found to be significantly lower with Lactobacillus than in mock infection. These data suggest that Lactobacillus could maintain a commensal interaction in the placental membranes as described in other body sites. Lactobacillus is also known to inhibit pathogen invasion. Group B Streptococcus (GBS) can ascend from the vaginal tract to infect placental membranes, triggering premature birth or neonatal infection. Four Lactobacillus strains representing three species were characterized to assess their impact on two GBS strains (colonizing and invasive). We found live Lactobacillus does not affect GBS growth or biofilm production. L. gasseri increased association of both strains of GBS to the decidual cells but did not result in increased invasion of the cells. Instead, co-culture with Lactobacillus reduced host cell death. Secreted products of Lactobacillus drastically reduced growth in 35 GBS strains that broadly represent GBS diversity and could prevent biofilm formation; this inhibition was strain dependent. Unfortunately, increased GBS-induced host cell death with Lactobacillus supernatants was observed. Collectively, these data suggest that both live Lactobacillus and its supernatant could impact GBS interactions with the placental membranes.Bacteriophage are one of the most abundant members of the microbiome but their impact on opportunistic pathogens such as GBS remains unknown. As GBS can be isolated from gastrointestinal tract, we hypothesized fecal phage communities would inhibit the growth of GBS in vitro. Approximately 6% of the tested communities inhibited the growth of 35 GBS strains. To better understand differences in GBS strain inhibition, we examined capsule, sequence and clinical types of the strains. As no significant differences were found with these traits, we next examined Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR), which serve as an adaptive immune system against invading foreign DNA by the acquisition of spacer sequences. GBS strains with fewer than nine spacer sequences were less likely to be lysed by a phage community than strains with more than sixteen spacers. We further hypothesized that presence of GBS in the corresponding bacterial component of each phage community would correlate to its ability to inhibit GBS growth. While this correlation did not exist across all GBS strains tested, sensitive strains of GBS were significantly more likely to be inhibited by phage communities with a lower abundance of GBS. Collectively, these data suggest that the phage component of the intestinal microbiome could impact GBS colonization. To further characterize these interactions, an individual bacteriophage should be isolated from these communities.