WEDNESDAY, June 17, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal stress-induced changes in the vaginal microbiota impact vaginal immunity and metabolic processes, according to an experimental study published online June 16 in Endocrinology.
Eldin Jašarević, Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues examined whether changes in the vaginal microbiome are associated with effects on the offspring gut microbiota and developing brain in a mouse model of early prenatal stress.
The researchers identified broad proteomic changes to the maternal vaginal environment in multivariate modeling; these changes influenced offspring microbiota composition and metabolic processes necessary for normal neurodevelopment. Proteins related to vaginal immunity and abundance of Lactobacillus were altered in maternal stress; the loss of maternal vaginal Lactobacillus correlated with reduced transmission to offspring. There was a correlation between altered microbiota composition in the neonate gut and changes in metabolite profiles involved in energy balance, and with region- and sex-specific amino acid profile disruption in the developing brain.
"These results identify the vaginal microbiota as a novel factor by which maternal stress may contribute to reprogramming of the developing brain that may predispose individuals to neurodevelopmental disorders," the authors write.