Biogenic Amines Increase the Odds of Bacterial Vaginosis and Affect the Growth of and Lactic Acid Production by Vaginal Lactobacillus spp.

Joanna Lynn C. Borgogna, Michelle D. Shardell, Savannah G. Grace, Elisa K. Santori, Benjamin Americus, Zhong Li, Alexander Ulanov, Larry Forney, Tiffanie M. Nelson, Rebecca M. Brotman, Jacques Ravel, Carl J. Yeoman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal disorder of reproductive-aged women, yet its etiology remains enigmatic. One clinical symptom ofBV, malodor, is linked to the microbial production of biogenic amines (BA). Using targetedliquid chromatography mass spectrometry, we analyzed 149 longitudinally collectedvaginal samples to determine the in vivo concentrations of the most commonBAs and then assessed their relationship to BV and effect upon the growth kineticsof axenically cultured vaginal Lactobacillus species. Increases in cadaverine, putrescine,and tyramine were associated with greater odds of women transitioning fromL. crispatus-dominated vaginal microbiota to microbiota that have a paucity ofLactobacillus spp. and from Nugent scores of 0 to 3 to Nugent scores of 7 to 10,consistent with BV. Exposure to putrescine lengthened the lag time and/or slowedthe growth of all vaginal Lactobacillus spp. except L. jensenii 62G. L. iners AB107’s lagtime was lengthened by cadaverine but reduced in the presence of spermidine andspermine. The growth rate of L. crispatus VPI 3199 was slowed by cadaverine and tyramine,and strain-specific responses to spermine and spermidine were observed.BAs were associated with reduced production of D- and L-lactic acid by vaginalLactobacillus spp., and this effect was independent of their effect upon Lactobacillusspecies growth. The exceptions were higher levels of D- and L-lactic acid by two strainsof L. crispatus when grown in the presence of spermine. Results of this study provideevidence of a direct impact of common biogenic amines on vaginal Lactobacillus spp.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Lactobacillus
  • bacterial vaginosis
  • biogenic amines
  • growth response
  • vaginal microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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