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The dogma of the sterile uterus revisited : does microbial seeding occur during fetal life in humans and animals?

(2024) REPRODUCTION. 167(1).
Author
Organization
Abstract
In brief: Opposing conclusions have been drawn regarding the presence of viable bacteria in the healthy pregnant uterus. Current evidence in humans and animals suggests that fetomaternal tissues present only traces of bacteria whose viability is still to be proven. The debate about the pioneer colonization of the fetus is still open, being the 'in utero colonization' hypothesis versus the 'sterile womb paradigm' the two opposing sides. The seed in this field of research sprouted in human medicine in the last decade and became a central topic in other mammals as well. We aimed to review the literature on bacterial colonization of the healthy placenta, amniotic fluid, and meconium as representatives of the fetal environment. What emerges is that confirming the colonization of fetomaternal tissues by viable bacteria is challenging in humans as well as in animals. Contamination represents the major risk in this type of research as it can be related to different parts of the study design. Sampling at natural parturition or postpartum introduces risk for colonization by the vaginal microbiome of the mother or from the environment. Culture does not reveal the presence of unculturable microorganisms, and sequencing does not allow confirming bacterial viability, while also introducing the variability associated with the data analysis. Therefore, on the basis of the present review, we provide some guidelines on the best practices when performing this type of studies. What emerges from the current literature in humans and animals is that fetomaternal tissues are characterized by a very low biomass, that the viability of bacteria eventually present is still to be confirmed, while massive colonization happens at birth, priming the individual, regardless of the species.
Keywords
AMNIOTIC-FLUID, IN-UTERO, GUT MICROBIOTA, DOUBLE-BLIND, BACTERIA, HEALTHY, COLONIZATION, MECONIUM, WOMB, TERM

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MLA
Banchi, Penelope, et al. “The Dogma of the Sterile Uterus Revisited : Does Microbial Seeding Occur during Fetal Life in Humans and Animals?” REPRODUCTION, vol. 167, no. 1, Bioscientifica LTD, 2024, doi:10.1530/REP-23-0078.
APA
Banchi, P., Colitti, B., Opsomer, G., Rota, A., & Van Soom, A. (2024). The dogma of the sterile uterus revisited : does microbial seeding occur during fetal life in humans and animals? REPRODUCTION, 167(1). https://doi.org/10.1530/REP-23-0078
Chicago author-date
Banchi, Penelope, Barbara Colitti, Geert Opsomer, Ada Rota, and Ann Van Soom. 2024. “The Dogma of the Sterile Uterus Revisited : Does Microbial Seeding Occur during Fetal Life in Humans and Animals?” REPRODUCTION 167 (1). https://doi.org/10.1530/REP-23-0078.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Banchi, Penelope, Barbara Colitti, Geert Opsomer, Ada Rota, and Ann Van Soom. 2024. “The Dogma of the Sterile Uterus Revisited : Does Microbial Seeding Occur during Fetal Life in Humans and Animals?” REPRODUCTION 167 (1). doi:10.1530/REP-23-0078.
Vancouver
1.
Banchi P, Colitti B, Opsomer G, Rota A, Van Soom A. The dogma of the sterile uterus revisited : does microbial seeding occur during fetal life in humans and animals? REPRODUCTION. 2024;167(1).
IEEE
[1]
P. Banchi, B. Colitti, G. Opsomer, A. Rota, and A. Van Soom, “The dogma of the sterile uterus revisited : does microbial seeding occur during fetal life in humans and animals?,” REPRODUCTION, vol. 167, no. 1, 2024.
@article{01HSAWB2Q7KWM2CE4Z7ACMARQX,
  abstract     = {{In brief: Opposing conclusions have been drawn regarding the presence of viable bacteria in the healthy pregnant uterus. Current evidence in humans and animals suggests that fetomaternal tissues present only traces of bacteria whose viability is still to be proven. The debate about the pioneer colonization of the fetus is still open, being the 'in utero colonization' hypothesis versus the 'sterile womb paradigm' the two opposing sides. The seed in this field of research sprouted in human medicine in the last decade and became a central topic in other mammals as well. We aimed to review the literature on bacterial colonization of the healthy placenta, amniotic fluid, and meconium as representatives of the fetal environment. What emerges is that confirming the colonization of fetomaternal tissues by viable bacteria is challenging in humans as well as in animals. Contamination represents the major risk in this type of research as it can be related to different parts of the study design. Sampling at natural parturition or postpartum introduces risk for colonization by the vaginal microbiome of the mother or from the environment. Culture does not reveal the presence of unculturable microorganisms, and sequencing does not allow confirming bacterial viability, while also introducing the variability associated with the data analysis. Therefore, on the basis of the present review, we provide some guidelines on the best practices when performing this type of studies. What emerges from the current literature in humans and animals is that fetomaternal tissues are characterized by a very low biomass, that the viability of bacteria eventually present is still to be confirmed, while massive colonization happens at birth, priming the individual, regardless of the species.}},
  articleno    = {{e230078}},
  author       = {{Banchi, Penelope and  Colitti, Barbara and Opsomer, Geert and  Rota, Ada and Van Soom, Ann}},
  issn         = {{1470-1626}},
  journal      = {{REPRODUCTION}},
  keywords     = {{AMNIOTIC-FLUID,IN-UTERO,GUT MICROBIOTA,DOUBLE-BLIND,BACTERIA,HEALTHY,COLONIZATION,MECONIUM,WOMB,TERM}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{1}},
  pages        = {{14}},
  publisher    = {{Bioscientifica LTD}},
  title        = {{The dogma of the sterile uterus revisited : does microbial seeding occur during fetal life in humans and animals?}},
  url          = {{http://doi.org/10.1530/REP-23-0078}},
  volume       = {{167}},
  year         = {{2024}},
}

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