The relationship of cervical microbiota diversity with race and disparities in preterm birth

Wheeler, S.*, Pryor, K., Antczak, B., Truong, T., Murtha, A., Seed, P. | JNPM 2018;

OBJECTIVE: Pregnant non-Hispanic blacks (NHB) have increased vaginal microbiome diversity compared to non-Hispanic whites (NHW) which may contribute to increased preterm birth. Cervical microbiome diversity is poorly characterized in pregnancy, therefore our objective was to correlate cervical microbiota diversity with cervico-vaginal inflammation by race and delivery timing.
STUDY DESIGN: Pregnant women were recruited in the first and second trimesters. A sterile cervical swab and saline lavage were collected at a single time point. Using 16S rRNA sequencing, Chao1 and Shannon Diversity (SDI) indices were measured and compared by race and delivery timing (preterm vs. term delivery). Cervico-vaginal inflammatory markers were also compared by race and delivery timing. Spearman correlation coefficients between cervical microbiome diversity and cervico-vaginal inflammatory markers were calculated.
RESULTS: Of the 51 subjects, 39 (76%) were NHB and 12 (24%) were NHW. Cervical microbiota SDI was significantly higher in NHB compared to NHW (0.5 vs. 0.1; p = 0.03). However, there were no difference in Chao1 diversity or cervico-vaginal inflammatory markers by race or delivery timing.
CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest the cervical microbiota diversity during pregnancy differs by race. Larger cohort studies will further determine if altered cervical diversity is part of the pathogenesis of PTB and explains race disparities.

*Corresponding Author: 

 Sarahn Wheeler, DUMC Box 3967, Durham, NC, USA. E-mail: