Probing Bacterial Vaginosis Sialidase As A Risk Factor For GBS Colonization And Fetal Transmission

Principal Investigator(s):

Nicole Gilbert, Ph.D. - Molecular Microbiology

Status: Completed

Center(s): Center for Pediatric Pulmonary Disease

Award Mechanism: Postdoctoral Fellowship

Project Period: 2/1/2014 - 1/31/2016

Total Amount: $60,000

Collaborators: Amanda Lewis

Project Summary:

Maternal genital tract bacteria pose a significant threat to neonatal health. Group B Streptococcus (GBS), a bacterium that frequently colonizes the maternal vagina, can reach the uterus and be transmitted to the baby, resulting in fetal lung damage, long-term lung problems such as pneumonia, and other serious conditions. GBS vaginal colonization is more prevalent among women with bacterial vaginosis (BV)—a condition characterized by a disruption in the balance of vaginal bacteria. GBS and BV are most pronounced in African-American women. It is proposed that BV-GBS co-colonization may explain why African-American women are more likely to deliver preterm babies at a greater risk for invasive GBS disease.


•      Determine whether BV-GBS interactions—specifically, the removal of GBS surface molecules known as sialic acids by a BV-associated enzyme called sialidase—augments GBS vaginal colonization, infection and fetal transmission

•       Identify the role of host inflammation in BV-GBS pathologies

Potential impact: 

These mechanistic studies may reveal that BV-GBS co-colonization is a risk factor for adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes that could be targeted for improved screening and treatment strategies.