Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Microbiology & Immunology

First Advisor

Dr. Kimberly Jefferson


Sneathia vaginalis, formerly Sneathia amnii, is a gram-negative vaginal species that is associated with pregnancy complications including preterm birth. The only virulence factor of S. vaginalis that has been characterized is the cytopathogenic toxin, component A (CptA), a pore-forming toxin that lyses human red blood cells and human epithelial cells and plays a role in traversal of the bacteria through fetal membranes. The overarching goal of this work was to examine the host immune response to CptA. To investigate the immune response to CptA, levels of anti-CptA IgM, IgA, and IgG in human mid-vaginal swab samples obtained during pregnancy were quantified. All three antibody isotypes were detectable, suggesting that CptA is expressed in vivo and is recognized by the host immune defenses. Vaginal swab samples containing anti-CptA antibodies neutralized the hemolytic activity of CptA toxin in vitro. To extend these findings, an animal model is needed, so the second aim of this work was to begin to establish a mouse model for S. vaginalis colonization. Conditions were optimized to maximize vaginal colonization of C57BL/6 mice.


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Available for download on Wednesday, May 08, 2024