Ureaplasma parvum infection induces inflammatory changes in vaginal epithelial cells independent of sialidase

Emmanuel Amabebe, Lauren S. Richardson, Giovana Fernanda Cosi Bento, Enkhtuya Radnaa, Talar Kechichian, Ramkumar Menon, Dilly O.C. Anumba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ureaplasma, a genus of the order Mycoplasmatales and commonly grouped with Mycoplasma as genital mycoplasma is one of the most common microbes isolated from women with infection/inflammation-associated preterm labor (PTL). Mycoplasma spp. produce sialidase that cleaves sialic acid from glycans of vaginal mucous membranes and facilitates adherence and invasion of the epithelium by pathobionts, and dysregulated immune response. However, whether Ureaplasma species can induce the production of sialidase is yet to be demonstrated. We examined U. parvum-infected vaginal epithelial cells (VECs) for the production of sialidase and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Methods: Immortalized VECs were cultured in appropriate media and treated with U. parvum in a concentration of 1 × 105 DNA copies/ml. After 24 h of treatment, cells and media were harvested. To confirm infection and cell uptake, immunocytochemistry for multi-banded antigen (MBA) was performed. Pro-inflammatory cytokine production and protein analysis for sialidase confirmed pro-labor pathways. Results: Infection of VECs was confirmed by the presence of intracellular MBA. Western blot analysis showed no significant increase in sialidase expression from U. parvum-treated VECs compared to uninfected cells. However, U. parvum infection induced 2-3-fold increased production of GM-CSF (p = 0.03), IL-6 (p = 0.01), and IL-8 (p = 0.01) in VECs compared to controls. Conclusion: U. parvum infection of VECs induced inflammatory imbalance associated with vaginal dysbiosis but did not alter sialidase expression at the cellular level. These data suggest that U. parvum’s pathogenic effect could be propagated by locally produced pro-inflammatory cytokines and, unlike other genital mycoplasmas, may be independent of sialidase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3035-3043
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Biology Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation
  • Preterm birth
  • Sialidase
  • Ureaplasma parvum
  • Vaginal epithelial cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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