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Front. Immunol. | doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00208

Uterine Microbiota: Residents, Tourists or Invaders?

 James M. Baker1, 2, Dana M. Chase3, 4, 5 and  Melissa M. Herbst-Kralovetz1, 6*
  • 1Basic Medical Sciences, University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix, United States
  • 2Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, United Kingdom
  • 3US Oncology Network, United States
  • 4University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix, United States
  • 5Creighton University School of Medicine, United States
  • 6Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix, United States

Uterine microbiota have been reported under various conditions and populations,
however it is uncertain the level to which these bacteria are residents that maintain homeostasis, tourists that are readily eliminated or invaders that contribute to human disease. This review provides a historical timeline and summarizes the current status of this topic with the aim of promoting research priorities and discussion on this controversial topic. Discrepancies exist in current reports of uterine microbiota and are critically reviewed and examined. Established and putative routes of bacterial seeding of the human uterus and interactions with distal mucosal sites are discussed. Based upon the current literature we highlight the need for additional robust clinical and translational studies in this area. In addition, we discuss the necessity for investigating host-microbiota interactions and the physiologic and functional impact of these microbiota on the local endometrial microenvironment as these mechanisms may influence poor reproductive, obstetric and gynecologic health outcomes and sequelae.

Keywords: Endometrium, microbiota, Host-Microbe Interactions, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, Endometriosis, Infertility, Endometrial polyps, Inflammation, Mucosal epithelia, IVF, Endometrial Hyperplasia, endometrial cancer, reproductive immunology, host physiology, pH, microbiome and immune system, Lactobacillus, pathophysiology, Genital Neoplasms, Female

Received: 04 Oct 2017; Accepted: 24 Jan 2018.

Edited by:

Gayane Manukyan, Institute of Molecular Biology (NAS RA), Armenia

Reviewed by:

Elisabeth M. Bik, uBiome (United States), United States
Luke McNally, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2018 Baker, Chase and Herbst-Kralovetz. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Melissa M. Herbst-Kralovetz, University of Arizona College of Medicine - Phoenix, Basic Medical Sciences, Phoenix, United States, mherbst1@email.arizona.edu