Gardnerella vaginalis is one of the most common causes of bacterial vaginosis. Gardnerella infection is an important factor in reducing a woman's quality of life and may be responsible for the occurrence of various complications in pregnancy.
Gardnerella belongs to the family Bifidobacteriaceae. These microbes are small, immobile, do not form spores, are usually stick-shaped, and were formerly called Hemophilus vaginalis. With Gram staining, they can appear either as Gram-positive or as Gram-negative (pleiomorphic) due to the very thin layer of peptidoglycan they have in their cell wall. Gardnerella vaginalis microbiologically is a demanding microorganism, which needs complex culture media to grow and grows best in the presence of carbon dioxide. The cell surface of Gardnerella vaginalis is covered with cilia, which are responsible for its attachment to the vaginal epithelial cells.
Many studies have confirmed the presence of Gardnerella vaginalis in women with bacterial vaginosis, but also in asymptomatic women. It is important to note that Gardnerella vaginalis has also been detected in male partners of women with bacterial vaginosis, suggesting the possibility of the microbe being transmitted through sexual contact. The onset of vaginitis is usually the result of a reduction in vaginal lactobacilli and the appearance of dysbiosis of the vaginal microbiome.
The ability of Gardnerella vaginalis to adhere to the vaginal epithelial cells provides the potential for biofilm formation as well as for the attachment of other important pathogens responsible for the occurrence of bacterial vaginosis such as Atopobium vaginae. Both G. vaginalis and A. vaginae have been detected together in vaginal secretions in combination with the presence of clue cells. Biofilm formation is the key to the development of bacterial vaginosis as it imparts increased antibiotic resistance and at the same time resistance to the host's immune defenses, turning bacterial vaginosis very often into chronic or recurrent vaginitis. Atopobium vaginae resistance to metronidazole and its association with G. vaginalis biofilms may explain the high recurrence rates of bacterial vaginosis. The production of amines by Gardnerella vaginalis results in an increase in the pH of the vagina, which favors the development of other anaerobes associated with the occurrence of bacterial vaginosis.
Gardnerella vaginalis has many properties, including the formation of biofilms, various metabolic activities, the destruction of epithelial cells, and the disruption of the host's immunity, which can contribute to the development of bacterial vaginosis and its resistance to treatment.
At Diagnostiki Athinon, the test for the presence of Gardnerella vaginalis in the urogenital system can be done in combination with other microorganisms, both in men and women, in the following laboratory tests: