The human body carries billions of microorganisms that influence health and well-being. Dysbioses, i.e. imbalances of the human microbial community, have been linked with numerous disorders including gestational diabetes mellitus and PE. Even in the course of a normal, healthy pregnancy, the body undergoes substantial hormonal, immunological and metabolic changes (21, 22). For instance, it has been reported, that the bacterial load is increased during the course of gestation (23), or that the microbial composition reflects a “metabolic-syndrome-like” status of the pregnant woman (24). Also the placenta harbors a unique microbiome, representing the first platform that presents bacterial components to the unborn. Our goal is to use improved, state-of-the-art methods in order to analyze the function and activity of the human microbiome in pregnancy disorders such as gestational diabetes mellitus and PE. We claim that with our methods, we can create the first full picture of the microbiome, including bacteria, archaea and fungi, by focusing on the living portion thereof only. We hypothesise that pregnancy disorders are potentially linked to an increased microbial load in urine, amniotic fluid and / or the child’s meconium. We will use different methods in state-of-the-art microbiome research, including 16S rRNA gene-based next-generation sequencing, propidium monoazide treatment of the samples, fluorescence in situ hybridization to visualize the microorganisms and metagenomics and / or metatranscriptomics, as well as metabolomics. We are in particular interested in the interaction of microbial cells with the placenta and placental cell lines (GD, MG, BH) under certain conditions. Using propidium monoazide treatment, we are able to distinguish intact (living) microorganisms from background signatures, a severe draw-back in ongoing studies.
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