Deep microbial analysis of multiple placentas shows no evidence for a placental microbiome

Amir A Kuperman, Alex Zimmerman, Suha Hamadia, Oren Ziv, Vyacheslav Gurevich, Boris Fichtman, Nancy Gavert, Ravid Straussman, Hagai Rechnitzer, Miriam Barzilay, Sergio Shvalb, Jacob Bornstein, Inbar Ben-Shachar, Simcha Yagel, Izhak Haviv, Omry Koren
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2019 August 2

OBJECTIVES: We wished to resolve the controversy regarding the presence of a microbiota in the placenta.

DESIGN: Classical and molecular microbiological study.

SETTING: All samples were collected during Cesarean section.

POPULATION: Twenty- eighthuman placentas and 6 murine placentas.

METHODS: All 28 human placentas were checked for 16S rRNA gene amplification products. Three locations from 4 selected human placentas and 3 "environmental controls" for each placenta were placed in 7 culture media. The 4 selected human placentas were further analyzed using Gram stain, immunohistochemistry for bacteria, electron microscopy, and TaqMan RT-qPCR. Six placentas from 3 SPF mice were cut into 4 pieces each, and further analyzed for 16S rRNA gene amplification.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Microbiological and molecular evidence for bacteria.

RESULTS: None of the placental cultures used for the full analysis, or their environmental cultures, were positive for bacterial growth. All the other methods, including electron microscopy, 16S rRNA gene amplification and TaqMan RT-qPCR showed no evidence for bacteria. Immunohistochemistry showed negligible bacterial counts. None of the murine placentas showed evidence for 16S rRNA gene amplification.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results support that the fetal environment in the womb is sterile. Based on the Immunohistochemistry and the limit of detection of the other methods used, if a placental microbiome exists, it is of extreme low biomass, and thus its effect on clinical phenotypes is probably minor, if at all. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.


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