With Isala, we have found that this bacterium was dominant in the vagina of 1,398 women. That is about 43% of all participants that donated a sample.
What does this bacterium look like?
Lactobacillus crispatus is a fairly long rod of 2 to 11 micrometers in size with a thick wall. That’s not that big when you know that 1000 micrometers fit into one millimeter. The name comes from the English ‘curled, crisped’. This bacterium was first discovered by Brygoo and Aladame in 1953.
What does science already know about this bacterium?
Kind of a lot! This bacterium has a very extensive genome of about 2 million base pairs with more than 2000 genes, which means that this bacterium can make more than 2000 different proteins. She also seems to be well equipped to survive in a relatively wide variety of animal and human environments.
What is this bacterium doing in my vagina?
Lactobacillus crispatus is very often associated with a healthy vagina. This bacterium produces a lot of lactic acid and therefore ensures acidity in the vagina. In this way, this bacterium protects your vagina against infections or pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Lactobacillus crispatus also makes other molecules that act as natural antibiotics or protect against inflammation, but not all these molecules are well known. When researching a healthy vaginal microbiome, we often focus on lactic acid, but each strain of Lactobacillus also produces an array of protective or beneficial molecules for our health.
Unravelling these molecules is something that Isala’s team is happy to work on in the future. For example, we already know that Lactobacillus crispatus has a very good and active immune system so that this bacterium can protect itself against bacteriophages. These are viruses that can make (healthy) bacteria sick.
Does this bacterium occur elsewhere?
Yes, Lactobacillus crispatus is also found in your gut and scientists have also found it in chickens. If you enter this bacterium in a search engine on the internet, you will probably come across a number of probiotics. After all, a lot of scientific research has already been done into the health effects of this bacterium.