Evidence supports an inverse association between vitamin D and bacterial vaginosis (BV) during pregnancy. Furthermore, both the vaginal microbiome and vitamin D status correlate with pregnancy outcome. Women of African ancestry are more likely to experience BV, to be vitamin D deficient, and to have certain pregnancy complications. We investigated the association between vitamin D status and the vaginal microbiome.

Study design

Subjects were assigned to a treatment (4400 IU) or a control group (400 IU vitamin D daily), sampled three times during pregnancy, and vaginal 16S rRNA gene taxonomic profiles and plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations were examined.


Gestational age and ethnicity were significantly associated with the microbiome. Megasphaera correlated negatively (p = 0.0187) with 25(OH)D among women of African ancestry. Among controls, women of European ancestry exhibited a positive correlation between plasma 25(OH)D and L. crispatus abundance.


Certain vaginal bacteria are associated with plasma 25(OH)D concentration.

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This work was funded in part from a grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and by the South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research (SCTR) Institute, with an academic home at the Medical University of South Carolina, NIH/NCAT Grant number UL1 TR000062. This work was also supported by National Institutes of Health [grant U54 DE023786 “A Multi-‘omic Analysis of the Vaginal Microbiome during Pregnancy”]. All sequencing and analysis of sequence data were performed in the Genomics Core of the Nucleic Acids Research Facilities at VCU.

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Author notes

  1. These authors contributed equally: G.A. Buck, C.L. Wagner


  1. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

    • Kimberly K. Jefferson
    • , Hardik I. Parikh
    • , Erin M. Garcia
    • , Myrna G. Serrano
    • , Jennifer M. Fettweis
    •  & Gregory A. Buck
  2. Center for the Study of Biological Complexity, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

    • Hardik I. Parikh
    • , David J. Edwards
    •  & Jerome F. Strauss III
  3. Department of Statistical Sciences and Operations Research, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

    • David J. Edwards
  4. Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK

    • Martin Hewison
  5. Division of Neonatology, Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital, Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital, Charleston, SC, USA

    • Judith R. Shary
    • , Bruce W. Hollis
    •  & Carol L. Wagner
  6. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA

    • Anna M. Powell
  7. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA

    • Jennifer M. Fettweis
    •  & Jerome F. Strauss III


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Correspondence to Gregory A. Buck or Carol L. Wagner.

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