Vitamins for your vaginal health?

Did you know that you can positively influence your microbiome by taking vitamins? In a new Isala daughter project, you can get to know both your vaginal and gut microbiome while testing the effect of taking vitamins! A unique opportunity to contribute to new insights into the role of vitamins on women’s health. Would you like to help? Read more about the study and discover how to register below!

Logo VIAB2L-studie

For this study, we are looking for participants that:

  • are native Dutch speakers OR can read and understand Dutch (since the informed consent form and questionnaires are all in Dutch)
  • are able to visit our Isala lab in Antwerp at five different moments (between September and December)
  • aged 18 years or older
  • are not pregnant
  • are not breastfeeding
  • are preferably using the contraceptive pill already or are willing to do so during the study, as we already know that contraception affects the vaginal microbiome and bleeding during a stop week

What do we expect from you? 

The study will start in September 2024. Without knowing which one, you will take one of the following capsules for 28 days:

  • the first type of capsule is filled with our unique Isala bacterium, Limosilactobacillus reuteri AMBV339 (be sure to check our blog), which can produce large amounts of vitamin B2.
  • the second type of capsule is filled with vitamin B2 traditionally made through a process that does not involve bacteria. You can compare this capsule to a vitamin B2 supplement found in the supermarket.
  • the third type of capsule is a combination of capsules 1 and 2. This way, we want to investigate whether both together, namely vitamin B2 produced by our Isala bacterium (Limosilactobacillus reuteri AMBV339) and traditional vitamin B2 are better than when administered separately.
  • the fourth type of capsule is a control, also called a placebo. There are no bacteria or vitamin B2 in this capsule, but a filling agent. We do not expect any effects from this capsule, but it is crucial to understand the results of the study properly later on.

The study will take place over eight weeks. You will collect four types of samples at five different time points (see figure). The four types of samples are vaginal swabs, stool samples, urine samples, and blood samples. This gives us a full picture of what is happening in your body before, during, and after you administer one of the capsule types. You will collect the stool samples at home. You will visit the Isala lab yourself and bring your stool samples with you in the provided sealed bag. On-site, you will collect the vaginal swabs and a urine sample in complete privacy. The blood samples will be collected at the end by a study nurse. Such a visit to our lab takes about 20 minutes and we will be available to answer questions and make sure everything goes smoothly. Finally, at the five different moments, you will fill in a questionnaire to evaluate your general health.

Overview of the study with seven weeks of joy!

Your samples under the magnifying glass

As soon as we receive your samples in the Isala lab, our enthusiastic team of researchers will start processing them right away! In this study, we will map your vaginal and gut microbiome based on your samples. We will also study compounds such as vitamin B2, fatty acids, and elements of your immune system in your samples. For example, in your blood and urine samples, we will measure the levels of vitamin B2 that your body does and does not absorb. By combining all the data with the information from the questionnaires, we hope to better understand the role of vitamin B2 on women’s health. Of course, as a participant, you will also receive your personal results!

Vitamin B2 as a superhero

Every woman needs a certain amount of vitamin B2 every day. Deficiencies can consequently cause a lot of disadvantages. Generally, we talk about fatigue, anemia, impaired vision, and so on. But vitamin B2 also appears to be of great importance for women’s health. For instance, a good vitamin B2 status is important for reproduction, a healthy pregnancy, a balanced composition of breast milk, a good hormonal balance, and so on!

VIAB2L, a nice name for this Isala daughter project!

VIAB2L is a contraction of a long English study name that reads as follows: Vaginal and Intestinal Application of vitamin B2 produced by Lactobacilli and Supplementation. Just to clarify: this is all about administering vitamin B2 produced by lactobacilli (our favorite good bacteria) or traditionally made, and we will take a look at vaginal and gut bacteria (among so many other things!). With such an abbreviation, everyone knows in the blink of an eye which study we are referring to. And that is definitely important as our Isala team is launching several studies at the same time, each with a unique goal! To summarize: With the VIAB2L study, we aim to investigate the effects of vitamin B2 (or riboflavin) on women’s health.

An enthusiastic team of researchers!

Behind every study is an enthusiastic team of researchers! Isabel Erreygers and Caroline Dricot are the PhD students leading this Isala daughter project. Of course, they can count on experienced Isala researchers such as Professor Sarah Lebeer (the one and only!), Professor Veronique Verhoeven (Isala’s physician) and Dr. Sarah Ahannach (present from the start of Isala). They are supported by Dr. Eline Cauwenberghs, Nele Van de Vliet, Reine Audenaert, Dr. Thies Gehrmann, and Tim Van Rillaer! As usual at Isala: teamwork makes the dream work. 🙂 We would also like to thank DSM-Firmenich for the fruitful collaboration.