Hymes SR, Randis TM, Sun TY, Ratner AJ
Bacterial vaginosis is a highly prevalent and poorly understood polymicrobial disorder of the vaginal microbiota, with significant adverse sequelae. Gardnerella vaginalis predominates in bacterial vaginosis. Biofilms of G. vaginalis are present in human infections and are implicated in persistent disease, treatment failure, and transmission. Here we demonstrate that G. vaginalis biofilms contain extracellular DNA, which is essential to their structural integrity. Enzymatic disruption of this DNA specifically inhibits biofilms, acting on both newly forming and established biofilms. DNase liberates bacteria from the biofilm to supernatant fractions and potentiates the activity of metronidazole, an antimicrobial agent used in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. Using a new murine vaginal colonization model for G. vaginalis, we demonstrate>10-fold inhibition of G. vaginalis colonization by DNase. We conclude that DNase merits investigation as a potential nonantibiotic adjunct to existing bacterial vaginosis therapies in order to decrease the risk of chronic infection, recurrence, and associated morbidities.