Vaginal Glycogen, Not Estradiol, Is Associated With Vaginal Bacterial Community Composition in Black Adolescent Women

Kenetta L. Nunn, Benjamin J. Ridenhour, Emily M. Chester, Virginia J. Vitzthum, J. Dennis Fortenberry, Larry J. Forney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to characterize the composition of vaginal bacterial communities in a cohort of black adolescent women and to determine how the species composition of these communities correlates with levels of estradiol, glycogen, and stress. Methods: Twenty-one black adolescent women were sampled longitudinally. The composition of their vaginal communities was determined by analyzing the sequences of the V1–V3 regions of 16S rRNA genes, and they were grouped based on patterns in species abundances. The relationships between estradiol, glycogen, psychosocial stress, and the composition of these communities were assessed. Results: Vaginal communities could be distinguished and classified into three groups that differed in the abundances of Lactobacillus. Eighty-one percent of study participants had communities dominated by species of Lactobacillus. Glycogen levels were higher in communities dominated by one or multiple species of Lactobacillus compared with those having low proportions of Lactobacillus. Estradiol and psychosocial stress measurements did not differ among the three groups, whereas estradiol and glycogen exhibited a weak positive relationship that was not statistically significant. Conclusions: The findings of this pilot study suggest that glycogen levels are associated with vaginal community composition in young black women; however, estradiol and psychosocial stress are not. In addition, the results suggest there is no simple relationship between levels of estradiol and the production of vaginal glycogen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-138
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Adolescent
  • Estrogen
  • Glycogen
  • Microbial community
  • Microbiome
  • Stress
  • Vagina
  • Vaginal microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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