In vitro bacterial vaginosis biofilm community manipulation using endolysin therapy

William Johnston, Alicia Ware, Willemijn Frederique Kuiters, Christopher Delaney, Jason Lee Brown, Suzanne Hagen, David Corcoran, Matthew Cummings, Gordon Ramage, Ryan Kean*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Bacterial vaginosis (BV) affects approximately 26% of women of childbearing age globally, presenting with 3–5 times increased risk of miscarriage and two-fold risk of pre-term birth. Antibiotics (metronidazole and clindamycin) are typically employed to treat BV; however the success rate is low due to the formation of recalcitrant polymicrobial biofilms. As a novel therapeutic, promising results have been obtained in vitro using Gardnerella endolysins, although to date their efficacy has only been demonstrated against simple biofilm models.

In this study, a four-species biofilm was developed consisting of Gardnerella vaginalis, Fannyhessea vaginae, Prevotella bivia and Mobiluncus curtisii. Biofilms were grown in NYC III broth and treated using antibiotics and an anti-Gardnerella endolysin (CCB7.1) for 24 h. Biofilm composition, viability and structure were assessed using colony counts, live/dead qPCR and scanning electron microscopy.

All species colonised biofilms to varying degrees, with G. vaginalis being the most abundant. Biofilm composition remained largely unchanged when challenged with escalated concentrations of conventional antibiotics. A Gardnerella-targeted endolysin candidate (CCB7.1) showed efficacy against several Gardnerella species planktonically, and significantly reduced viable G. vaginalis within polymicrobial biofilms at 1 to 4X pMIC (p < 0.05 vs. vehicle control).

Collectively, this study highlights the resilience of biofilm-embedded pathogens against the currently used antibiotics and provides a polymicrobial model that allows for more effective pre-clinical screening of BV therapies. The Gardnerella-specific endolysin CCB7.1 demonstrated significant activity against G. vaginalis within polymicrobial biofilms, altering the overall community dynamic and composition.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100101
Number of pages9
Early online date29 Dec 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Dec 2022


  • Biofilm
  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Endolysin
  • Gardnerella vaginalis
  • Reproductive health


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