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Advances in mass spectrometry technologies to characterize cervicovaginal microbiome functions that impact spontaneous preterm birth.

Masson L, Wilson J, Amir Hamzah AS, Tachedjian G, Payne M

  • Published 27 Jul 2023

  • Volume 90

  • ISSUE 2

  • Pagination e13750

  • DOI 10.1111/aji.13750


Preterm birth (PTB) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in young children. Infection is a major cause of this adverse outcome, particularly in PTBs characterised by spontaneous rupture of membranes, referred to as spontaneous (s)PTB. However, the aetiology of sPTB is not well defined and specific bacteria associated with sPTB differ between studies and at the individual level. This may be due to many factors including a lack of understanding of strain-level differences in bacteria that influence how they function and interact with each other and the host. Metaproteomics and metabolomics are mass spectrometry-based methods that enable the collection of detailed microbial and host functional information. Technological advances in this field have dramatically increased the resolution of these approaches, enabling the simultaneous detection of thousands of proteins or metabolites. These data can be used for taxonomic analysis of vaginal bacteria and other microbes, to understand microbiome-host interactions, and identify diagnostic biomarkers or therapeutic targets. Although these methods have been used to assess host proteins and metabolites, few have characterized the microbial compartment in the context of pregnancy. The utilisation of metaproteomic and metabolomic-based approaches has the potential to vastly improve our understanding of the mechanisms leading to sPTB.