Pawel Gajer

University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Are you Pawel Gajer?

Claim your profile

Publications (28)89.2 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Abstract Intravaginal practices (IVP) are common among African women and are associated with HIV acquisition. A behavioral intervention to reduce IVP is a potential new HIV risk-reduction strategy. Fifty-eight HIV-1-uninfected Kenyan women reporting IVP and 42 women who denied IVP were followed for 3 months. Women using IVP attended a skill-building, theory-based group intervention occurring weekly for 3 weeks to encourage IVP cessation. Vaginal swabs at each visit were used to detect yeast, to detect bacterial vaginosis, and to characterize the vaginal microbiota. Intravaginal insertion of soapy water (59%) and lemon juice (45%) was most common among 58 IVP women. The group-counseling intervention led to a decrease in IVP from 95% (54/58) at baseline to 0% (0/39) at month 3 (p=0.001). After 3 months of cessation, there was a reduction in yeast on vaginal wet preparation (22% to 7%, p=0.011). Women in the IVP group were more likely to have a Lactobacillus iners-dominated vaginal microbiota at baseline compared to controls [odds ratio (OR), 6.4, p=0.006] without significant change in the microbiota after IVP cessation. The group counseling intervention was effective in reducing IVP for 3 months. Reducing IVP may be important in itself, as well as to support effective use of vaginal microbicides, to prevent HIV acquisition.
    AIDS research and human retroviruses. 09/2014;
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Smoking has been identified in observational studies as a risk factor for bacterial vaginosis (BV), a condition defined in part by decimation of Lactobacillus spp. The anti-estrogenic effect of smoking and trace amounts of benzo[a]pyrene diol epoxide (BPDE) may predispose women to BV. BPDE increases bacteriophage induction in Lactobacillus spp. and is found in the vaginal secretions of smokers. We compared the vaginal microbiota between smokers and non-smokers and followed microbiota changes in a smoking cessation pilot study.
    BMC Infectious Diseases 08/2014; 14(1):471. · 3.03 Impact Factor
  • The Journal of infectious diseases. 06/2014;
  • Source
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To take advantage of affordable high-throughput next-generation sequencing technologies to characterize microbial community composition often requires the development of improved methods to overcome technical limitations inherent to the sequencing platforms. Sequencing low sequence diversity libraries such as 16S rRNA amplicons has been problematic on the Illumina MiSeq platform and often generates sequences of suboptimal quality. Here we present an improved dual-indexing amplification and sequencing approach to assess the composition of microbial communities from clinical samples using the V3-V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene on the Illumina MiSeq platform. We introduced a 0 to 7 bp "heterogeneity spacer" to the index sequence that allows an equal proportion of samples to be sequenced out of phase. Our approach yields high quality sequence data from 16S rRNA gene amplicons using both 250 bp and 300 bp paired-end MiSeq protocols and provides a flexible and cost-effective sequencing option.
    Microbiome. 02/2014; 2(1):6.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study was undertaken to characterize the vaginal microbiota throughout normal human pregnancy using sequence-based techniques. We compared the vaginal microbial composition of non-pregnant patients with a group of pregnant women who delivered at term. A retrospective case-control longitudinal study was designed and included non-pregnant women (n = 32) and pregnant women who delivered at term (38 to 42 weeks) without complications (n = 22). Serial samples of vaginal fluid were collected from both non-pregnant and pregnant subjects. A 16S rRNA gene sequence-based survey was conducted using pyrosequencing to characterize the structure and stability of the vaginal microbiota. Linear mixed effects models and generalized estimating equations were used to identify the phylotypes whose relative abundance was different between the two study groups. The vaginal microbiota of normal pregnant women was different from that of non-pregnant women (higher abundance of Lactobacillus vaginalis, L. crispatus, L. gasseri and L. jensenii and lower abundance of 22 other phylotypes in pregnant women). Bacterial community state type (CST) IV-B or CST IV-A characterized by high relative abundance of species of genus Atopobium as well as the presence of Prevotella, Sneathia, Gardnerella, Ruminococcaceae, Parvimonas, Mobiluncus and other taxa previously shown to be associated with bacterial vaginosis were less frequent in normal pregnancy. The stability of the vaginal microbiota of pregnant women was higher than that of non-pregnant women; however, during normal pregnancy, bacterial communities do shift but almost exclusively from one CST dominated by Lactobacillus spp. to another CST dominated by Lactobacillus spp. We report the first longitudinal study of the vaginal microbiota in normal pregnancy. Differences in the composition and stability of the microbial community between pregnant and non-pregnant women were observed. Lactobacillus spp. were the predominant members of the microbial community in normal pregnancy. These results can serve as the basis to study the relationship between the vaginal microbiome and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
    Microbiome. 02/2014; 2(1):4.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study was undertaken to determine whether the vaginal microbiota of pregnant women who subsequently had a spontaneous preterm delivery is different from that of women who had a term delivery.
    Microbiome. 01/2014; 2:18.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Sequence analyses and subtyping of Bacillus anthracis strains from Georgia reveal a single distinct lineage (Aust94) that is ecologically established. Phylogeographic analysis and comparisons to a global collection reveals a clade that is mostly restricted to Georgia. Within this clade, many groups are found around the country, however at least one subclade is only found in the eastern part. This pattern suggests that dispersal into and out of Georgia has been rare and despite historical dispersion within the country, for at least for one lineage, current spread is limited.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(7):e102651. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The vaginal microbiota helps protect the female genital tract from disease. We sought to describe the composition of the vaginal microbiota in premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women and to explore the association between the microbiota and vulvovaginal atrophy (VVA). Eighty-seven women (aged 35-60 y) were classified as premenopausal (n = 30), perimenopausal (n = 29), or postmenopausal (n = 28) according to Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop guidelines. Midvaginal bacterial community composition was characterized by 16S ribosomal RNA gene analysis. Bacterial communities clustered into six community state types (CSTs), of which four were dominated by Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus iners, or Lactobacillus jensenii, and two (CST IV-A and CST IV-B) had low relative abundance of Lactobacillus. CST IV-A was characterized by Streptococcus and Prevotella, whereas CST IV-B was characterized by Atopobium. There were significant associations between menopause stage and CST (P = 0.004) and between VVA and CST (P = 0.002). Perimenopausal women were more likely to be classified as CST IV-A or L. gasseri CST, whereas postmenopausal women were often classified as CST IV-A. CSTs dominated by L. crispatus and L. iners were more prevalent in premenopausal women. Nineteen participants had signs of mild or moderate VVA. Compared with women with no VVA, the vaginal microbiota of women with mild or moderate atrophy had 25-fold greater odds of being classified as CST IV-A versus L. crispatus CST (adjusted odds ratio, 25.89; 95% credible interval, 2.98-406.79). A distinct bacterial community state (CST IV-A) with a low relative abundance of Lactobacillus is associated with VVA. Future studies recruiting a larger number of women are needed to replicate the findings. This study provides an impetus for future longitudinal studies designed to manage, modulate, and restore vaginal microbiota homeostasis, which would provide stronger evidence for a causal relationship with VVA and ultimately improve the treatment and prevention of atrophic vaginitis in menopause.
    Menopause (New York, N.Y.) 09/2013; · 3.08 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common gynecologic diagnosis characterized by dysbiosis of the vaginal microbiota. It is often accompanied by vaginal symptoms such as odor and discharge, but can be asymptomatic. Despite over 50 years of research, the etiology of BV is not well understood, which is a major impediment to treatment and prevention of BV. http://www.microbiomejournal.com/content/pdf/2049-2618-1-29.pdf Here we report on the temporal dynamics of 25 vaginal communities over a 10 week period using samples collected daily from women who were diagnosed with symptomatic BV (15 women), asymptomatic BV (6 women), and women who did not have BV (4 women). This unique resource of samples and data will contribute to a better understanding of the role that the vaginal microbes have in the natural history of BV and lead to improved diagnosis and treatment.
    Microbiome. 01/2013; 1(1):29.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: High systemic estrogen levels contribute to breast cancer risk for postmenopausal women, whereas low levels contribute to osteoporosis risk. Except for obesity, determinants of non-ovarian systemic estrogen levels are undefined. We sought to identify members and functions of the intestinal microbial community associated with estrogen levels via enterohepatic recirculation. METHODS: Fifty-one epidemiologists at the National Institutes of Health, including 25 men, 7 postmenopausal women, and 19 premenopausal women, provided urine and aliquots of feces, using methods proven to yield accurate and reproducible results. Estradiol, estrone, 13 estrogen metabolites (EM), and their sum (total estrogens) were quantified in urine and feces by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry. In feces, beta-glucuronidase and beta-glucosidase activities were determined by realtime kinetics, and microbiome diversity and taxonomy were estimated by pyrosequencing 16S rRNA amplicons. Pearson correlations were computed for each loge estrogen level, loge enzymatic activity level, and microbiome alpha diversity estimate. For the 55 taxa with mean relative abundance of at least 0.1%, ordinal levels were created [zero, low (below median of detected sequences), high] and compared to loge beta-glucuronidase and loge beta-glucosidase enzymatic activity levels by linear regression. Significance was based on two-sided tests with alpha=0.05. RESULTS: In men and postmenopausal women, levels of total urinary estrogens (as well as most individual EM) were very strongly and directly associated with all measures of fecal microbiome richness and alpha diversity (R>=0.50, P<=0.003). These non-ovarian systemic estrogens also were strongly and significantly associated with fecal Clostridia taxa, including non-Clostridiales and three genera in the Ruminococcaceae family (R=0.57-0.70, P=0.03-0.002). Estrone, but not other EM, in urine correlated significantly with functional activity of fecal beta-glucuronidase (R=0.36, P=0.04). In contrast, fecal beta-glucuronidase correlated inversely with fecal total estrogens, both conjugated and deconjugated (R<=-0.47, P<=0.01). Premenopausal female estrogen levels, which were collected across menstrual cycles and thus highly variable, were completely unrelated to fecal microbiome and enzyme parameters (P>=0.6). CONCLUSIONS: Intestinal microbial richness and functions, including but not limited to beta-glucuronidase, influence levels of non-ovarian estrogens via enterohepatic circulation. Thus, the gut microbial community likely affects the risk for estrogen-related conditions in older adults. Understanding how Clostridia taxa relate to systemic estrogens may identify targets for interventions.Trial registration: Not applicable.
    Journal of Translational Medicine 12/2012; 10(1):253. · 3.46 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Elucidating the factors that impinge on the stability of bacterial communities in the vagina may help in predicting the risk of diseases that affect women's health. Here, we describe the temporal dynamics of the composition of vaginal bacterial communities in 32 reproductive-age women over a 16-week period. The analysis revealed the dynamics of five major classes of bacterial communities and showed that some communities change markedly over short time periods, whereas others are relatively stable. Modeling community stability using new quantitative measures indicates that deviation from stability correlates with time in the menstrual cycle, bacterial community composition, and sexual activity. The women studied are healthy; thus, it appears that neither variation in community composition per se nor higher levels of observed diversity (co-dominance) are necessarily indicative of dysbiosis.
    Science translational medicine 05/2012; 4(132):132ra52. · 10.76 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We conducted a pilot study of reproducibility and associations of microbial diversity and composition in faecal microbial DNA. Participants (25 men and 26 women, aged 17-65 years) provided questionnaire data and multiple samples of one stool collected with two Polymedco and two Sarstedt devices preloaded with RNAlater. 16S rRNA genes in each faecal DNA aliquot were amplified, sequenced (Roche/454 Life Sciences) and assigned to taxa. Devices were compared for ease of use and reproducibility [intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC)] between duplicate aliquots on diversity and taxonomic assignment. Associations were tested by linear regression. Both collection devices were easy to use. Both alpha diversity (Shannon index) and beta diversity (UniFrac) were higher between than within duplicates (P ≤ 10(-8) ) and did not differ significantly by device (P ≥ 0·62). Reproducibility was good (ICC≥0·77) for alpha diversity and taxonomic assignment to the most abundant phyla, Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes (71·5% and 25·0% of sequences, respectively), but reproducibility was low (ICC≤0·48) for less abundant taxa. Alpha diversity was lower with nonantibiotic prescription medication (P = 0·02), with younger age (P = 0·03) and marginally with higher body mass index (P = 0·08). With sampling from various parts of a stool, both devices provided good reproducibility on overall microbial diversity and classification for the major phyla, but not for minor phyla. Implementation of these methods should provide insights into how broad microbial parameters, but not necessarily rare microbes, affect risk of various conditions.
    European Journal of Clinical Investigation 02/2012; 42(8):855-63. · 3.37 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The effect of storage conditions on the microbiome and metabolite composition of human biological samples has not been thoroughly investigated as a potential source of bias. We evaluated the effect of two common storage conditions used in clinical trials on the bacterial and metabolite composition of the vaginal microbiota using pyrosequencing of barcoded 16S rRNA gene sequencing and (1)H-NMR analyses. Eight women were enrolled and four mid-vaginal swabs were collected by a physician from each woman. The samples were either processed immediately, stored at -80°C for 4 weeks or at -20°C for 1 week followed by transfer to -80°C for another 4 weeks prior to analysis. Statistical methods, including Kolmogorovo-Smirnov and Wilcoxon tests, were performed to evaluate the differences in vaginal bacterial community composition and metabolites between samples stored under different conditions. The results showed that there were no significant differences between samples processed immediately after collection or stored for varying durations. (1)H-NMR analysis of the small molecule metabolites in vaginal secretions indicated that high levels of lactic acid were associated with Lactobacillus-dominated communities. Relative abundance of lactic acid did not appear to correlate with relative abundance of individual Lactobacillus sp. in this limited sample, although lower levels of lactic acid were observed when L. gasseri was dominant, indicating differences in metabolic output of seemingly similar communities. These findings benefit large-scale, field-based microbiome and metabolomic studies of the vaginal microbiota.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(5):e36934. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT Vaginal HIV microbicides offer great promise in preventing HIV transmission, but failures of phase 3 clinical trials, in which microbicide-treated subjects had an increased risk of HIV transmission, raised concerns about endpoints used to evaluate microbicide safety. A possible explanation for the increased transmission risk is that the agents shifted the vaginal bacterial community, resulting in loss of natural protection and enhanced HIV transmission susceptibility. We characterized vaginal microbiota, using pyrosequencing of bar-coded 16S rRNA gene fragments, in samples from 35 healthy, sexually abstinent female volunteer subjects (ages 18 to 50 years) with regular menses in a repeat phase 1 study of twice-daily application over 13.5 days of 1 of 3 gel products: a hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC)-based "universal" placebo (10 subjects), 6% cellulose sulfate (CS; 13 subjects), and 4% nonoxynol-9 (N-9; 12 subjects). We used mixed effects models inferred using Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo methods, which showed that treatment with active agents shifted the microbiota toward a community type lacking significant numbers of Lactobacillus spp. and dominated by strict anaerobes. This state of the vaginal microbiota was associated with a low or intermediate Nugent score and was not identical to bacterial vaginosis, an HIV transmission risk factor. The placebo arm contained a higher proportion of communities dominated by Lactobacillus spp., particularly L. crispatus, throughout treatment. The data suggest that molecular evaluation of microbicide effects on vaginal microbiota may be a critical endpoint that should be incorporated in early clinical assessment of microbicide candidates. IMPORTANCE Despite large prevention efforts, HIV transmission and acquisition rates remain unacceptably high. In developing countries, transmission mainly occurs through heterosexual intercourse, where women are significantly more vulnerable to infection than men. Vaginal microbicides are considered to be one of the most promising female-controlled products, in that women themselves insert the microbicides into the vagina to prevent HIV transmission during sexual intercourse. The failure of several microbicides in clinical trials has raised questions concerning the low in vivo efficacy of such anti-HIV molecules. This study was designed to gain insights into the failures of two microbicides by testing the hypothesis that the microbicides negatively affect a critical line of defense against HIV, the vaginal microbiota. The results suggest that in the early assessment of candidate microbicides, culture-independent evaluation of their effect on the vaginal microbiota should be considered and may constitute a critical endpoint.
    mBio 01/2012; 3(6). · 6.88 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Few microbial functions have been compared to a comprehensive survey of the human fecal microbiome. We evaluated determinants of fecal microbial β-glucuronidase and β-glucosidase activities, focusing especially on associations with microbial alpha and beta diversity and taxonomy. We enrolled 51 healthy volunteers (26 female, mean age 39) who provided questionnaire data and multiple aliquots of a stool, from which proteins were extracted to quantify β-glucuronidase and β-glucosidase activities, and DNA was extracted to amplify and pyrosequence 16S rRNA gene sequences to classify and quantify microbiome diversity and taxonomy. Fecal β-glucuronidase was elevated with weight loss of at least 5 lb. (P = 0.03), whereas β-glucosidase was marginally reduced in the four vegetarians (P = 0.06). Both enzymes were correlated directly with microbiome richness and alpha diversity measures, directly with the abundance of four Firmicutes Clostridia genera, and inversely with the abundance of two other genera (Firmicutes Lactobacillales Streptococcus and Bacteroidetes Rikenellaceae Alistipes) (all P = 0.05-0.0001). Beta diversity reflected the taxonomic associations. These observations suggest that these enzymatic functions are performed by particular taxa and that diversity indices may serve as surrogates of bacterial functions. Independent validation and deeper understanding of these associations are needed, particularly to characterize functions and pathways that may be amenable to manipulation.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(6):e39745. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Celiac disease (CD) is a unique autoimmune disorder in which the genetic factors (DQ2/DQ8) and the environmental trigger (gluten) are known and necessary but not sufficient for its development. Other environmental components contributing to CD are poorly understood. Studies suggest that aspects of gluten intake might influence the risk of CD occurrence and timing of its onset, i.e., the amount and quality of ingested gluten, together with the pattern of infant feeding and the age at which gluten is introduced in the diet. In this study, we hypothesize that the intestinal microbiota as a whole rather than specific infections dictates the switch from tolerance to immune response in genetically susceptible individuals. Using a sample of infants genetically at risk of CD, we characterized the longitudinal changes in the microbial communities that colonize infants from birth to 24 months and the impact of two patterns of gluten introduction (early vs. late) on the gut microbiota and metabolome, and the switch from gluten tolerance to immune response, including onset of CD autoimmunity. We show that infants genetically susceptible to CD who are exposed to gluten early mount an immune response against gluten and develop CD autoimmunity more frequently than at-risk infants in which gluten exposure is delayed until 12 months of age. The data, while derived from a relatively small number of subjects, suggest differences between the developing microbiota of infants with genetic predisposition for CD and the microbiota from infants with a non-selected genetic background, with an overall lack of bacteria of the phylum Bacteriodetes along with a high abundance of Firmicutes and microbiota that do not resemble that of adults even at 2 years of age. Furthermore, metabolomics analysis reveals potential biomarkers for the prediction of CD. This study constitutes a definite proof-of-principle that these combined genomic and metabolomic approaches will be key to deciphering the role of the gut microbiota on CD onset.
    PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(3):e33387. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Understanding the normal temporal variation in the human microbiome is critical to developing treatments for putative microbiome-related afflictions such as obesity, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease and malnutrition. Sequencing and computational technologies, however, have been a limiting factor in performing dense time series analysis of the human microbiome. Here, we present the largest human microbiota time series analysis to date, covering two individuals at four body sites over 396 timepoints. We find that despite stable differences between body sites and individuals, there is pronounced variability in an individual’s microbiota across months, weeks and even days. Additionally, only a small fraction of the total taxa found within a single body site appear to be present across all time points, suggesting that no core temporal microbiome exists at high abundance (although some microbes may be present but drop below the detection threshold). Many more taxa appear to be persistent but non-permanent community members. DNA sequencing and computational advances described here provide the ability to go beyond infrequent snapshots of our human-associated microbial ecology to high-resolution assessments of temporal variations over protracted periods, within and between body habitats and individuals. This capacity will allow us to define normal variation and pathologic states, and assess responses to therapeutic interventions.
    Genome biology 05/2011; 12(5):R50. · 10.30 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The means by which vaginal microbiomes help prevent urogenital diseases in women and maintain health are poorly understood. To gain insight into this, the vaginal bacterial communities of 396 asymptomatic North American women who represented four ethnic groups (white, black, Hispanic, and Asian) were sampled and the species composition characterized by pyrosequencing of barcoded 16S rRNA genes. The communities clustered into five groups: four were dominated by Lactobacillus iners, L. crispatus, L. gasseri, or L. jensenii, whereas the fifth had lower proportions of lactic acid bacteria and higher proportions of strictly anaerobic organisms, indicating that a potential key ecological function, the production of lactic acid, seems to be conserved in all communities. The proportions of each community group varied among the four ethnic groups, and these differences were statistically significant [χ(2)(10) = 36.8, P < 0.0001]. Moreover, the vaginal pH of women in different ethnic groups also differed and was higher in Hispanic (pH 5.0 ± 0.59) and black (pH 4.7 ± 1.04) women as compared with Asian (pH 4.4 ± 0.59) and white (pH 4.2 ± 0.3) women. Phylotypes with correlated relative abundances were found in all communities, and these patterns were associated with either high or low Nugent scores, which are used as a factor for the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis. The inherent differences within and between women in different ethnic groups strongly argues for a more refined definition of the kinds of bacterial communities normally found in healthy women and the need to appreciate differences between individuals so they can be taken into account in risk assessment and disease diagnosis.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2011; 108 Suppl 1:4680-7. · 9.81 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: PhyloTrac is an integrated desktop application for analysis of PhyloChip microarray data. PhyloTrac combined with PhyloChip provides turnkey and comprehensive identification and analysis of bacterial and archaeal communities in complex environmental samples. PhyloTrac is free for noncommercial organizations and is available for all major operating systems at http://www.phylotrac.org/.
    Applied and Environmental Microbiology 08/2010; 76(16):5636-8. · 3.95 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

857 Citations
89.20 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2014
    • University of Maryland, Baltimore
      • Institute for Genome Sciences
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2012
    • National Cancer Institute (USA)
      • Infections and Immunoepidemiology
      Maryland, United States
  • 2010
    • University of Idaho
      • Department of Biological Sciences
      Moscow, ID, United States
  • 2004
    • Biomedical Research Institute, Rockville
      Maryland, United States