Immunometabolic Analysis of Mobiluncus mulieris and Eggerthella sp. Reveals Novel Insights Into Their Pathogenic Contributions to the Hallmarks of Bacterial Vaginosis

Ross McKenzie, Jason D. Maarsingh, Paweł Łaniewski, Melissa M. Herbst-Kralovetz

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4 Citations (SciVal)


The cervicovaginal microbiome plays an important role in protecting women from dysbiosis and infection caused by pathogenic microorganisms. In healthy reproductive-age women the cervicovaginal microbiome is predominantly colonized by protective Lactobacillus spp. The loss of these protective bacteria leads to colonization of the cervicovaginal microenvironment by pathogenic microorganisms resulting in dysbiosis and bacterial vaginosis (BV). Mobiluncus mulieris and Eggerthella sp. are two of the many anaerobes that can contribute to BV, a condition associated with multiple adverse obstetric and gynecological outcomes. M. mulieris has been linked to high Nugent scores (relating to BV morphotypes) and preterm birth (PTB), whilst some bacterial members of the Eggerthellaceae family are highly prevalent in BV, and identified in ~85-95% of cases. The functional impact of M. mulieris and Eggerthella sp. in BV is still poorly understood. To determine the individual immunometabolic contributions of Eggerthella sp. and M. mulieris within the cervicovaginal microenvironment, we utilized our well-characterized human three-dimensional (3-D) cervical epithelial cell model in combination with multiplex immunoassays and global untargeted metabolomics approaches to identify key immune mediators and metabolites related to M. mulieris and Eggerthella sp. infections. We found that infection with M. mulieris significantly elevated multiple proinflammatory markers (IL-6, IL-8, TNF-α and MCP-1) and altered metabolites related to energy metabolism (nicotinamide and succinate) and oxidative stress (cysteinylglycine, cysteinylglycine disulfide and 2-hydroxygluatrate). Eggerthella sp. infection significantly elevated multiple sphingolipids and glycerolipids related to epithelial barrier function, and biogenic amines (putrescine and cadaverine) associated with elevated vaginal pH, vaginal amine odor and vaginal discharge. Our study elucidated that M. mulieris elevated multiple proinflammatory markers relating to PTB and STI acquisition, as well as altered energy metabolism and oxidative stress, whilst Eggerthella sp. upregulated multiple biogenic amines associated with the clinical diagnostic criteria of BV. Future studies are needed to evaluate how these bacteria interact with other BV-associated bacteria within the cervicovaginal microenvironment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number759697
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Dr. Nicole Jimenez for critical review of the manuscript. We would also like to thank David Lowry at Arizona State University for his contributions in SEM sample preparation and imaging. Furthermore, we would like to recognize the Biodefense and Emerging Infections Research Resources Repository ( for supplying the bacterial isolates for this research; M. mulieris UPII-28I and Eggerthella sp. MVA1.


  • biogenic amines (BAs)
  • cervical epithelial barrier
  • genital inflammation
  • global metabolic and regulatory networks
  • organotypic 3D culture
  • vaginal dysbiosis
  • vaginal microbiome
  • women’s health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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