Objective To characterize the microbiota of postmenopausal women undergoing hysterectomy for endometrioid (EAC) or uterine serous cancers (USC) compared to controls with non-malignant conditions. Methods Endometrial, cervicovaginal and anorectal microbial swabs were obtained from 35 postmenopausal women (10 controls, 14 EAC and 11 USC) undergoing hysterectomy. Extracted DNA was PCR amplified using barcoded 16S rRNA gene V4 primers. Sequenced libraries were processed using QIIME2. Phyloseq was used to calculate α- and β- diversity measures. Biomarkers associated with case status were identified using ANCOM after adjustment for patient age, race and BMI. PICRUSt was used to identify microbial pathways associated with case status. Results Beta-diversity of microbial communities across each niche was significantly different (R2 = 0.25, p < 0.001). Alpha-diversity of the uterine microbiome was reduced in USC (Chao1, p = 0.004 and Fisher, p = 0.007) compared to EAC. Biomarkers from the three anatomical sites allowed samples to be clustered into two distinct clades that distinguished controls from USC cases (p = 0.042). The USC group was defined by 13 bacterial taxa across the three sites (W-stat>10, FDR<0.05) including depletion of cervicovaginal Lactobacillus and elevation of uterine Pseudomonas. PICRUSTt analysis revealed highly significant differences between the USC-associated clades within the cervicovaginal and uterine microbiota. Conclusions The microbial diversity of anatomic niches in postmenopausal women with EAC and USC is different compared to controls. Multiple bacteria are associated with USC case status including elevated levels of cervicovaginal Lactobacillus, depletion of uterine Pseudomonas, and substantially different functional potentials identified within cervicovaginal and uterine niches.
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