C-161. Carriage of Bacterial Vaginosis-Associated Species by Male Sexual Partners

M. Zozaya-Hinchliffe1, R. Lillis2, M. Ferris1,2, S. Taylor2, D. Martin2;
1Research Inst. for Children, New Orleans, LA, 2Louisiana State Univ. Hlth. Sci. Ctr., New Orleans, LA.

Background: Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a poorly understood syndrome. The condition seems to represent a disruption of commensal vaginal bacteria in which Lactobacilli are reduced and other genera, particularly anaerobes, are increased. No individual agent has been identified as the cause of BV; however, evidence suggests the condition can be sexually transmitted. Metronidazole is the most commonly prescribed treatment, yet treatment failure and recurrence rates are high. Recent cultivation-independent studies have revealed that bacterial genera, such as Atopobium vaginae and uncultivated Megasphaera species, are associated with BV. Carriage of these new genera by males has not been investigated. We speculate that high BV recurrence rates might be due to re-infection of females with BV-associated bacteria by male partners. Methods: We developed specific quantitative real time PCR assays targeting the 16S rRNA gene of ten vaginal bacterial species including Atopobium vaginae, Gardnerella vaginalis, Megasphaera type 1 and BVAB1, genera that are highly associated with BV. We investigated their distribution and abundance in vaginal specimens of twenty patients, fourteen with and six without BV, as well as in urine, urethral swab and coronal sulcus swab specimens of their male partners. Results: The results show that BV-associated bacteria are detectable in male partners of BV patients. The highest concentrations of the BV-associated bacteria G. vaginalis, A. vaginae, Megasphaera type 1 and BVAB1 were found in coronal sulcus swab specimens, while the lowest concentrations were found in urine specimens. The concentrations of BV-associated bacteria were low or undetectable in specimens of non-BV patients and their male partners. Conclusion: Male partners of women with BV carry recently recognized BV-associated bacterial genera and penile surface specimens appear to harbor the highest concentrations of these bacteria.