An in vitro culture system of bovine vaginal epithelial cells (BVECs) was developed to study the cytopathogenic effects of Tritrichomonas foetus and the role of lipophosphoglycan (LPG)-like cell surface glycoconjugates in adhesion of parasites to host cells. Exposure of BVEC monolayers to T. foetus resulted in extensive damage of monolayers. Host cell disruption was measured quantitatively by a trypan blue exclusion assay and by release of 3H from [3H]thymidine-labeled host cells. Results indicated contact-dependent cytotoxicity of host cells by T. foetus. The cytopathogenic effect was a function of T. foetus density. Metronidazole- or periodate-treated T. foetus showed no damage to BVEC monolayers. A related human trichomonad, Trichomonas vaginalis, showed no cytotoxic effects, indicating species-specific host-parasite interactions. A direct binding assay was developed and used to investigate the role of a major cell surface LPG-like molecule in host-parasite adhesion. The results of competition experiments showed that the binding to BVECs was displaceable, was saturable, and yielded a typical binding curve, suggesting that specific receptor-ligand interactions mediate the attachment of T. foetus to BVECs. Progesterone-treated BVECs showed enhanced parasite binding. T. foetus LPG inhibited the binding of T. foetus to BVECs; the LPG from T. vaginalis and a variety of other glycoconjugates did not. These data imply specificity of LPG on host-parasite adhesion. Periodate-treated parasites showed no adherence to host cells, indicating the involvement of carbohydrate containing molecules in the adhesion process.
Trichomonas vaginalis is the most common non-viral sexually transmitted pathogen. The infection is prevalent in reproductive age women and is associated with vaginitis, endometritis, adnexitis, pyosalpinx, infertility, preterm birth, low birth weight, bacterial vaginosis, and increased risk of cervical cancer, HPV, and HIV infection. In men, its complications include urethritis, prostatitis, epididymitis, and infertility through inflammatory damage or interference with the sperm function. The infection is often asymptomatic and recurrent despite the presence of specific antibodies, suggesting the importance of the innate immune defense. T. vaginalis adhesion proteins, cysteine proteases, and the major parasite lipophosphoglycan (LPG) play distinct roles in the pathogenesis and evasion of host immunity. LPG plays a key role in the parasite adherence and signaling to human vaginal and cervical epithelial cells, which is at least in part mediated by galectins. The epithelial cells respond to T. vaginalis infection and purified LPG by selective upregulation of proinflammatory mediators. At the same time, T. vaginalis triggers an immunosuppressive response in monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. The molecular mechanisms underlying reproductive complications and epidemiologic risks associated with T. vaginalis infection remain to be elucidated.
Trichomonas vaginalis; lipophosphoglycan; cytokines; galectins; human vaginal epithelial cells
Complex interactions of vaginal microorganisms with the genital tract epithelium shape mucosal innate immunity, which holds the key to sexual and reproductive health. Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a microbiome-disturbance syndrome prevalent in reproductive-age women, occurs commonly in concert with trichomoniasis, and both are associated with increased risk of adverse reproductive outcomes and viral infections, largely attributable to inflammation. To investigate the causative relationships among inflammation, BV and trichomoniasis, we established a model of human cervicovaginal epithelial cells colonised by vaginal Lactobacillus isolates, dominant in healthy women, and common BV species (Atopobium vaginae, Gardnerella vaginalis and Prevotella bivia).
Colonised epithelia were infected with Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) or exposed to purified TV virulence factors (membrane lipophosphoglycan (LPG), its ceramide-phosphoinositol-glycan core (CPI-GC) or the endosymbiont Trichomonas vaginalis virus (TVV)), followed by assessment of bacterial colony-forming units, the mucosal anti-inflammatory microbicide secretory leucocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), and chemokines that drive pro-inflammatory, antigen-presenting and T cells.
TV reduced colonisation by Lactobacillus but not by BV species, which were found inside epithelial cells. TV increased interleukin (IL)-8 and suppressed SLPI, likely via LPG/CPI-GC, and upregulated IL-8 and RANTES, likely via TVV as suggested by use of purified pathogenic determinants. BV species A vaginae and G vaginalis induced IL-8 and RANTES, and also amplified the pro-inflammatory responses to both LPG/CPI-GC and TVV, whereas P bivia suppressed the TV/TVV-induced chemokines.
These molecular host–parasite–endosymbiont–bacteria interactions explain epidemiological associations and suggest a revised paradigm for restoring vaginal immunity and preventing BV/TV-attributable inflammatory sequelae in women.
TRICHOMONAS; VAGINAL MICROBIOLOGY; IMMUNOLOGY; BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS; WOMEN
The extracellular human pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis is covered by a dense glycocalyx thought to play a role in host-parasite interactions. The main component of the glycocalyx is lipophosphoglycan (LPG), a polysaccharide anchored in the plasma membrane by inositol phosphoceramide. To study the role of LPG in trichomonads, we produced T. vaginalis LPG mutants by chemical mutagenesis and lectin selection and characterized them using morphological, biochemical, and functional assays. Two independently selected LPG mutants, with growth rates comparable to that of the wild-type (parent) strain, lost the ability to bind the lectins Ricinnus comunis agglutinin I (RCA120) and wheat germ agglutinin, indicating alterations in surface galactose and glucosamine residues. LPG isolated from mutants migrated faster than parent strain LPG on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, suggesting the mutants had shorter LPG molecules. Dionex high-performance anion exchange chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection analyses revealed galactosamine, glucosamine, galactose, glucose, mannose/xylose, and rhamnose as the main monosaccharides of T. vaginalis parent strain LPG. LPG from both mutants showed a reduction of galactose and glucosamine, corresponding with the reduced size of their LPG molecules and inability to bind the lectins RCA120 and wheat germ agglutinin. Mutant parasites were defective in attachment to plastic, a characteristic associated with avirulent strains of T. vaginalis. Moreover, the mutants were less adherent and less cytotoxic to human vaginal ectocervical cells in vitro than the parental strain. Finally, while parent strain LPG could inhibit the attachment of parent strain parasites to vaginal cells, LPG from either mutant could not inhibit attachment. These combined results demonstrate that T. vaginalis adherence to host cells is LPG mediated and that an altered LPG leads to reduced adherence and cytotoxicity of this parasite.
Trichomonosis, caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, is the number one, nonviral sexually transmitted infection that has adverse consequences for the health of women and children. The interaction of T. vaginalis with vaginal epithelial cells (VECs), a step preparatory to infection, is mediated in part by the prominent surface protein AP65. The bovine trichomonad, Tritrichomonas foetus, adheres poorly to human VECs. Thus, we established a transfection system for heterologous expression of the T. vaginalis AP65 in T. foetus, as an alternative approach to confirm adhesin function for this virulence factor.
In this study, we show stable transfection and expression of the T. vaginalis ap65 gene in T. foetus from an episomal pBS-ap65-neo plasmid. Expression of the gene and protein was confirmed by RT-PCR and immunoblots, respectively. AP65 in transformed T. foetus bound to host cells. Specific mAbs revealed episomally-expressed AP65 targeted to the parasite surface and hydrogenosome organelles. Importantly, surface-expression of AP65 in T. foetus paralleled increased levels of adherence of transfected bovine trichomonads to human VECs.
The T. vaginalis AP65 adhesin was stably expressed in T. foetus, and the data obtained using this heterologous system strongly supports the role of AP65 as a prominent adhesin for T. vaginalis. In addition, the heterologous expression in T. foetus of a T. vaginalis gene offers an important, new approach for confirming and characterizing virulence factors.
Trichomonas vaginalis and Tritrichomonas foetus cause common sexually transmitted infections in humans and cattle, respectively. Mouse models of trichomoniasis are important for pathogenic and therapeutic studies. Here, we compared murine genital infections with T. vaginalis and T. foetus. Persistent vaginal infection with T. foetus was established with 100 parasites but T. vaginalis infection required doses of 106, perhaps because of greater susceptibility to killing by mouse vaginal polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Infection with T. vaginalis persisted longest after combined treatment of mice with estrogen and dexamethasone, whereas infection was only short-lived when mice were given estrogen or dexamethasone alone, co-infected with Lactobacillus acidophilus, and/or pretreated with antibiotics. Infection rates were similar with metronidazole-resistant (MR) and metronidazole-sensitive (MS) T. vaginalis. High dose but not low dose metronidazole treatment controlled infection with MS better than MR T. vaginalis. These murine models will be valuable for investigating the pathogenesis and treatment of trichomoniasis.
In this study we established human vaginal epithelial cells (hVECs) in culture and evaluated their interaction with Trichomonas vaginalis parasites to complement previous studies using other cell types. Primary cultures of hVECs were established. Contaminating fibroblasts were separated from epithelial cells by differential trypsinization. Specific antibody staining revealed that over 92% of cells in hVEC monolayers were epithelial cells. T. vaginalis adhered to hVECs and produced severe cytotoxic effects resulting in obliteration of the monolayer within 24 h. Adherence and cytotoxicity were not observed when T. vaginalis was exposed to human vaginal fibroblasts or bovine vaginal epithelial cells. Likewise, the bovine parasite Tritrichomonas foetus had no cytotoxic effects on hVECs. We concluded that the interaction between T. vaginalis and hVECs is both cell specific (limited to epithelial cells and not vaginal fibroblasts) and species specific (limited to human vaginal cells and not bovine cells). Pretreatment of T. vaginalis with metronidazole or periodate abolished the adhesion of parasites to cell monolayers and the cytotoxic effect, suggesting involvement of carbohydrate-containing molecules in these processes. Different clinical isolates of T. vaginalis caused damage to cultured cells at different rates. Parasites separated from the vaginal cell monolayer by a permeable membrane did not produce a cytopathic effect, suggesting contact-dependent cytotoxicity.
Protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania cause a number of important human diseases. One of the key determinants of parasite infectivity and survival is the surface glycoconjugate lipophosphoglycan (LPG). In addition, LPG is shown to be useful as a transmission blocking vaccine. Since culture supernatant of parasite promastigotes is a good source of LPG, we made attempts to characterize functions of the culture supernatant, and membrane LPG isolated from metacyclic promastigotes of Leishmania major. The purification scheme included anion-exchange chromatography, hydrophobic interaction chromatography and cold methanol precipitation. The purity of supernatant LPG (sLPG) and membrane LPG (mLPG) was determined by SDS-PAGE and thin layer chromatography. The effect of mLPG and sLPG on nitric oxide (NO) production by murine macrophages cell line (J774.1A) was studied. Both sLPG and mLPG induced NO production in a dose dependent manner but sLPG induced significantly higher amount of NO than mLPG. Our results show that sLPG is able to promote NO production by murine macrophages.
Leishmania major; soluble LPG; membrane LPG; nitric oxide; macrophages
Background: Trichomonas vaginalis lipoglycan (TvLG) mediates interactions between the parasite and human host.
Results: TvLG is composed of a polyrhamnose backbone with branches of poly-N-acetyllactosamine that are involved in attachment to host epithelium.
Conclusion: TvLG has a unique structure among solved parasite glycans.
Significance: This work provides a template to analyze TvLG from T. vaginalis with different binding properties.
The extracellular parasite Trichomonas vaginalis contains a surface glycoconjugate that appears to mediate parasite-host cell interaction via binding to human galectin-1. This glycoconjugate also elicits cytokine production from human vaginal epithelial cells, implicating its role in modulation of host immune responses. We have analyzed the structure of this glycoconjugate, previously described to contain the sugars rhamnose (Rha), N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc), galactose (Gal), xylose (Xyl), N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc), and glucose (Glc), using gas chromatograph mass spectrometry (GC-MS), matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF), electrospray MS/MS, and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), combined with chemical and enzymatic digestions. Our data reveal a complex structure, named T. vaginalis lipoglycan (TvLG), that differs markedly from Leishmania lipophosphoglycan and Entamoeba lipopeptidophosphoglycan and is devoid of phosphosaccharide repeats. TvLG is composed of an α1–3 linked polyrhamnose core, where Rha residues are substituted at the 2-position with either β-Xyl or chains of, on average, five N-acetyllactosamine (-3Galβ1–4GlcNAcβ1-) (LacNAc) units and occasionally lacto-N-biose (-3Galβ1-3GlcNAcβ1-) (LNB). These chains are themselves periodically substituted at the Gal residues with Xyl-Rha. These structural analyses led us to test the role of the poly-LacNAc/LNB chains in parasite binding to host cells. We found that reduction of poly-LacNAc/LNB chains decreased the ability of TvLG to compete parasite binding to host cells. In summary, our data provide a new model for the structure of TvLG, composed of a polyrhamnose backbone with branches of Xyl and poly-LacNAc/LNB. Furthermore, the poly-LacNAc side chains are shown to be involved in parasite-host cell interaction.
Adhesion; Glycoconjugate; Glycolipid Structure; Host-Pathogen Interactions; Pathogenesis; Trichomonas; TvLG
Trichomonas vaginalis is a protist that causes the most common human sexually transmitted infection. A T. vaginalis cDNA expression library was screened with pooled sera from patients with trichomoniasis. A highly reactive cDNA clone of 1,428 bp encoded a trichomonad protein of 472 amino acids with sequence identity to α-enolase (tv-eno1). The sequence alignment confirmed the highly conserved nature of the enzyme with 65% to 84% identity among organisms. The expression of tv-eno1 was up-regulated by contact of parasites with vaginal epithelial cells, and this is the first report demonstrating up-regulation by cytoadherence of a plasminogen-binding α-enolase in T. vaginalis. Immunofluorescence with monoclonal antibody of nonpermeabilized trichomonads showed tv-ENO1 on the surface. The recombinant tv-ENO1 was expressed in Escherichia coli as a glutathione S-transferase (GST)::tv-ENO1 fusion protein, which was cleaved using thrombin to obtain affinity-purified recombinant tv-ENO1 protein (tv-rENO1) detectable in immunoblots by sera of patients. Immobilized tv-rENO1 bound human plasminogen in a dose-dependent manner, and plasminogen binding by tv-rENO1 was confirmed in a ligand blot assay. The plasminogen-specific inhibitor ɛ-aminocaproic acid blocked the tv-rENO1-plasminogen association, indicating that lysines play a role in binding to tv-rENO1. Further, both parasites and tv-rENO1 activate plasminogen to plasmin that is mediated by tissue plasminogen activator. These data indicate that as with other bacterial pathogens, tv-ENO1 is an anchorless, surface-associated glycolytic enzyme of T. vaginalis.
Trichomonas vaginalis is a common sexually transmitted parasite that colonizes the human urogential tract where it remains extracellular and adheres to epithelial cells. Infections range from asymptomatic to highly inflammatory, depending on the host and the parasite strain. Here, we use a combination of methodologies including cell fractionation, immunofluorescence and electron microscopy, RNA, proteomic and cytokine analyses and cell adherence assays to examine pathogenic properties of T. vaginalis. We have found that T.vaginalis produces and secretes microvesicles with physical and biochemical properties similar to mammalian exosomes. The parasite-derived exosomes are characterized by the presence of RNA and core, conserved exosomal proteins as well as parasite-specific proteins. We demonstrate that T. vaginalis exosomes fuse with and deliver their contents to host cells and modulate host cell immune responses. Moreover, exosomes from highly adherent parasite strains increase the adherence of poorly adherent parasites to vaginal and prostate epithelial cells. In contrast, exosomes from poorly adherent strains had no measurable effect on parasite adherence. Exosomes from parasite strains that preferentially bind prostate cells increased binding of parasites to these cells relative to vaginal cells. In addition to establishing that parasite exosomes act to modulate host∶parasite interactions, these studies are the first to reveal a potential role for exosomes in promoting parasite∶parasite communication and host cell colonization.
Trichomoniasis, the most common non-viral sexually transmitted disease worldwide, infects over 275 million people annually. Infection results from the colonization of the human urogenital tract by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis. To establish and maintain infection the parasite adheres to host cells, a process that is poorly understood. Here, we show that T. vaginalis secretes small vesicles called exosomes that are capable of fusing with and delivering their contents to host cells. Parasite exosomes were found to induce changes in the host cell and to mediate the interaction of T. vaginalis with host by increasing the adherence of the parasite to host cells. Exosomes have been primarily studied in mammalian cells where they have been shown to mediate intercellular communication and have been implicated in processes including development, antigen presentation and cancer metastasis. Our data extend the function of exosomes to mediating host∶parasite interactions, cellular communication between two species and promoting colonization of an extracellular parasite. Research on T. vaginalis exosomes holds the potential for developing applications that would allow exosomes to be used in detecting and diagnosing trichomoniasis and for targeting drugs to the site of infection.
Trichomoniasis is one of the most common acute sexually transmitted curable diseases, and it is disseminated worldwide generating more than 170 million cases annually. Trichomonas vaginalis is the parasite that causes trichomoniasis and has the ability to destroy cell monolayers of the vaginal mucosa in vitro. Sphingomyelinases (SMase) are enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of sphingomyelin into ceramide and phosphorylcholine. Ceramide appears to be a second messenger lipid in programmed apoptosis, cell differentiation, and cell proliferation. Sphingomyelinase is probably a major source of ceramide in cells. Signal transduction mediated by ceramide leads cells to produce cytokine induced apoptosis during several inflammatory responses. SMase are also relevant toxins in several microorganisms. The main objective of this research is to identify SMase activity of T. vaginalis in the total extract (TE), P30, and S30 subfractions from brooked trophozoites. It was found that these fractions of T. vaginalis have SMase activity, which comes principally from P30 subfraction and was mainly type C. Enzymatic activity of SMase increased linearly with time and is pH dependent with two peaks by pH 5.5 and pH 7.5. The addition of manganese to the reaction mixture increased the SMase activity by 1.97.
In isolates of Trichomonas vaginalis with reduced susceptibility metronidazole, flavin reductase and alcohol dehydrogenase-1 (ADH1) activities are down-regulated.
► In clinical isolates of Trichomonas vaginalis with reduced metronidazole susceptibility flavin reductase is down-regulated. ► In clinical isolates of T. vaginalis with reduced metronidazole susceptibility alcohol dehydrogenase-1 (ADH1) is down-regulated. ► Thioredoxin reductase levels are not changed in metronidazole-resistant T. vaginalis clinical isolates.
The microaerophilic parasite Trichomonas vaginalis is a causative agent of painful vaginitis or urethritis, termed trichomoniasis, and can also cause preterm delivery or stillbirth. Treatment of trichomoniasis is almost exclusively based on the nitroimidazole drugs metronidazole and tinidazole. Metronidazole resistance in T. vaginalis does occur and is often associated with treatment failure. In most cases, metronidazole-resistant isolates remain susceptible to tinidazole, but cross resistance between the two closely related drugs can be a problem.
In this study we measured activities of thioredoxin reductase and flavin reductase in four metronidazole-susceptible and five metronidazole-resistant isolates. These enzyme activities had been previously found to be downregulated in T. vaginalis with high-level metronidazole resistance induced in the laboratory. Further, we aimed at identifying factors causing metronidazole resistance and compared the protein expression profiles of all nine isolates by application of two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2DE).
Thioredoxin reductase activity was nearly equal in all strains assayed but flavin reductase activity was clearly down-regulated, or even absent, in metronidazole-resistant strains. Since flavin reductase has been shown to reduce oxygen to hydrogen peroxide, its down-regulation could significantly contribute to the impairment of oxygen scavenging as reported by others for metronidazole-resistant strains. Analysis by 2DE revealed down-regulation of alcohol dehydrogenase 1 (ADH1) in strains with reduced sensitivity to metronidazole, an enzyme that could be involved in detoxification of intracellular acetaldehyde.
Trichomonosis; Metronidazole resistance; Thiordoxin reductase; Flavin reductase; Alcohol dehydrogenase 1
In this study, we demonstrated that the protozoan parasite Leishmania donovani and one of its major surface molecules, the lipophosphoglycan (LPG), can induce human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) expression in U1 and OM-10.1, two cell lines of monocytoid origin latently infected with HIV-1. Treatment of U1 cells with various concentrations of LPG (1, 5, and 10 microM) resulted in a dose-dependent secretion of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). Suppression of LPG-induced HIV-1 expression by polyclonal anti-TNF-alpha antibodies further confirmed the involvement of this cytokine. Results from these studies indicate that the protozoan parasite L. donovani can induce the secretion of TNF-alpha that will function in an autocrine or paracrine manner to upregulate HIV-1 expression. Our data suggest for the first time that this protozoan parasite can be viewed as a potential cofactor in the pathogenesis of AIDS.
Trichomonas vaginalis causes the most common non-viral sexually transmitted infection linked to increased risk of premature birth, cervical cancer and HIV. This study defines molecular domains of the parasite surface glycol-conjugate lipophosphoglycan (LPG) with distinct functions in the host immunoinflammatory response. The ceramide phospho-inositol glycan core (CPI-GC) released by mild acid had Mr of ~8,700 Da determined by MALDI-TOF MS. Rha, GlcN, Gal and Xyl and small amounts of GalN and Glc were found in CPI-GC. N-acetyllactosamine repeats were identified by endo-β-galactosidase treatment followed by MALDI-MS and MS/MS and capLC/ESI-MS/MS analyses. Mild acid hydrolysis led to products rich in internal deoxyhexose residues. The CPI-GC induced chemokine production, NF-κB and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 activation in human cervicovaginal epithelial cells, but neither the released saccharide components nor the lipid-devoid LPG showed these activities. These results suggest a dominant role for CPI-GC in the pathogenic epithelial response to trichomoniasis.
Trichomonad LPG; Mass spectrometry; Cytokines; NF-κB; ERK; Vaginal mucosal immunity
Leishmania promastigotes express several prominent glycoconjugates, either secreted or anchored to the parasite surface. Of these lipophosphoglycan (LPG) is the most abundant, and along with other phosphoglycan-bearing molecules, plays important roles in parasite infectivity and pathogenesis in both the sand fly and the mammalian host. Besides its contribution for parasite survival in the sand fly vector, LPG is important for modulation the host immune responses to favor the establishment of mammalian infection. This review will summarize the current knowledge regarding the role of LPG in Leishmania infectivity, focusing on the interaction of LPG and innate immune cells and in the subversion of mammalian functions by this molecule.
Metronidazole, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved drug against trichomoniasis, is nonspermicidal and thus cannot offer pregnancy protection when used vaginally. Furthermore, increasing resistance of Trichomonas vaginalis to 5-nitro-imidazoles is a cause for serious concern. On the other hand, the vaginal spermicide nonoxynol-9 (N-9) does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases and HIV in clinical situations but may in fact increase their incidence due to its nonspecific, surfactant action. We therefore designed dually active, nonsurfactant molecules that were capable of killing Trichomonas vaginalis (both metronidazole-susceptible and -resistant strains) and irreversibly inactivating 100% human sperm at doses that were noncytotoxic to human cervical epithelial (HeLa) cells and vaginal microflora (lactobacilli) in vitro. Anaerobic energy metabolism, cell motility, and defense against reactive oxygen species, which are key to survival of both sperm and Trichomonas in the host after intravaginal inoculation, depend crucially on availability of free thiols. Consequently, molecules were designed with carbodithioic acid moiety as the major pharmacophore, and chemical variations were incorporated to provide high excess of reactive thiols for interacting with accessible thiols on sperm and Trichomonas. We report here the in vitro activities, structure-activity relationships, and safety profiles of these spermicidal antitrichomonas agents, the most promising of which was more effective than N-9 (the OTC spermicide) in inactivating human sperm and more efficacious than metronidazole in killing Trichomonas vaginalis (including metronidazole-resistant strain). It also significantly reduced the available free thiols on human sperm and inhibited the cytoadherence of Trichomonas on HeLa cells. Experimentally in vitro, the new compounds appeared to be safer than N-9 for vaginal use.
Trichomoniasis is perhaps the most common curable sexually transmitted disease worldwide, yet few resources are devoted to its control. It is associated with potentially serious complications such as preterm birth and human immunodeficiency virus acquisition and transmission. The immunology of a related organism, Tritrichomonas foetus, which causes disease in cattle, has been investigated to some extent, but more work is needed for the human strain, Trichomonas vaginalis. In addition, although trichomoniasis is easily treated with oral metronidazole, there is concern that the number of strains resistant to this antibiotic are increasing, and currently no alternative is licensed in the United States. As more is appreciated concerning the important public health implications of this common infection, more work will need to be done in understanding the diagnosis, treatment, and immunology of this organism.
Host parasitism by Trichomonas vaginalis is complex. Adherence to vaginal epithelial cells (VECs) is mediated by surface proteins. We showed before that antisense down-regulation of expression of adhesin AP65 decreased amounts of protein, which lowered levels of T. vaginalis adherence to VECs. We now perform antisense down-regulation of expression of the ap33 gene to evaluate and confirm a role for AP33 in adherence by T. vaginalis. We also used an established transfection system for heterologous expression of AP33 in T. foetus as an additional confirmatory approach.
We successfully select stable trichomonads with sense (S) and antisense (AS) plasmids. RT-PCR confirmed decreased amounts of ap33 mRNA in AS-transfected parasites, and decreased amounts of AP33 had no effect on growth and viability when compared to wild-type (wt) trichomonads. Immunoblots of proteins from AS-transfectants gave significant decreased amounts of functional AP33 capable of binding to host cells compared to wt- and S-transfected trichomonads. As expected, AS-transfectants had lower levels of adherence to VECs, which was related to reduction in surface expression of AP33. Stable expression of T. vaginalis AP33::HA fusion in T. foetus was confirmed by immunoblots and fluorescence. The episomally-expressed surface AP33::HA fusion increased adherence of trichomonads to human VECs, which was abrogated with anti-AP33 serum.
These results using both antisense inhibition of gene expression and AP33 synthesis and the heterologous expression of AP33 in T. foetus confirms a role for this protein as an adhesin in T. vaginalis.
In vitro cultured monolayers of normal human vaginal epithelial cells were incubated with axenic cultures of Trichomonas vaginalis. Two strains freshly isolated from patients with trichomoniasis and one strain that had been maintained in axenic culture for several years were studied. Freshly isolated trichomonads showed amoeboid movements, adherence to epithelial cell surfaces, and were cytotoxic to epithelial cells in vitro. In contrast, the laboratory strain maintained for years in axenic culture did not adhere to the epithelial cell monolayer and was only cytotoxic at a concentration 100 times that of freshly isolated trichomonads. Electron microscopy of monolayers exposed to T vaginalis for 24 hours showed that all epithelial cells in intimate contact with trichomonads had more or less disintegrated, whereas in monolayers exposed for six hours some of the epithelial cells in contact with T vaginalis were normal. T vaginalis organisms with amoeboid morphology contained a dense network of microfilaments in the part of the trichomonad that was in contact with an epithelial cell. Occasionally a pseudopodium was projected into the cytoplasm of disintegrated epithelial cells.
Trichomonas vaginalis secretes putrescine that is readily detected in vaginal secretions. We wanted to examine the effect of decreased putrescine synthesis by inhibition of ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) on T. vaginalis. One reason is because inhibition of Tritrichomonas foetus ODC results in growth arrest, destruction of hydrogenosomes, and decreased amounts of hydrogenosomal enzymes. Treatment of T. vaginalis T016 with ≥20 mM 1,4-diamino-2-butanone (DAB) to inhibit ODC resulted in growth arrest, which was reversed by addition of exogenous putrescine. No similar reversal of growth arrest was achieved with the polyamines spermine or spermidine or with iron. Electron microscopic examination of control versus DAB-treated trichomonads did not reveal any adverse effects on the number and integrity of hydrogenosomes. Further, the adhesins AP65, AP51, and AP33 mediating binding to immortalized vaginal epithelial cells (VECs) share identity to enzymes of the hydrogenosome organelle, and there was no difference in amounts of adhesins between control versus DAB-treated T. vaginalis parasites. Likewise, similar patterns and extent of fluorescence were evident for the prominent AP65 adhesin. Surprisingly, DAB treatment increased by 4- to 20-fold above untreated trichomonads handled identically the level of adherence mediated by adhesins. Interestingly, the enhanced attachment to VECs was reversed by exogenous putrescine added to DAB-treated trichomonads. Equally noteworthy was that DAB-treated T. vaginalis with enhanced adherence did not possess the previously reported ability to kill host cells in a contact-dependent fashion mediated by cysteine proteinases, and total cysteine proteinase activity patterns were identical between control and DAB-treated trichomonads. Overall, these data suggest that polyamine metabolism and secreted putrescine are linked to host cell adherence and cytotoxicity.
Trichomoniasis is a common sexually transmitted disease associated with preterm birth, low birth weight, and increased susceptibility to infection with other pathogenic sexually transmitted microorganisms. Nucleic acid amplification tests for Trichomonas vaginalis have improved sensitivity for detecting infected individuals compared to existing culture-based methods. This prospective, multicenter U.S. clinical trial evaluated the performance of the automated Aptima T. vaginalis assay for detecting T. vaginalis in 1,025 asymptomatic and symptomatic women. Vaginal swab, endocervical swab, ThinPrep PreservCyt, and urine specimens were collected. Subject infection status was determined by wet-mount microscopy and culture. Aptima T. vaginalis assay performance was determined for each specimen type by comparison to subject infection status. Of 933 subjects analyzed, 59.9% were symptomatic. Aptima T. vaginalis clinical sensitivity and specificity were, respectively, 100% and 99.0% for vaginal swabs, 100% and 99.4% for endocervical swabs, 100% and 99.6% in ThinPrep samples, and 95.2% and 98.9% in urine specimens. Aptima T. vaginalis performance levels were similar in asymptomatic and symptomatic subjects. This study validates the clinical performance of the Aptima T. vaginalis assay for screening asymptomatic and symptomatic women for T. vaginalis infection.
Human vaginal epithelial cells (VECs) from vaginal swabs obtained from normal women or from patients with trichomoniasis were purified, and VEC parasitism by Trichomonas vaginalis was examined. Trichomonads bound equally well to live or dead VECs, and up to 20% of VECs were parasitized. Trichomonal cytadherence of human VECs was time, temperature, and pH dependent. Saturation binding levels of live trichomonads to VECs gave approximately 2 organisms adherent to parasitized VEC. No differences in cytadherence levels were detected by different isolates to VECs from the same patient compared with adherence to VECs from normal individuals. Trypsinized, live T. vaginalis organisms failed to recognize VECs. A ligand assay identified four adhesin candidates, and only organisms without a prominent immunogen on the surface (negative phenotype) cytadhered to VECs and synthesized the adhesins, confirming the results of a recently published report by us on adherence to HeLa cell monolayers (J. F. Alderete and G. E. Garza, Infect. Immun. 56:28-33, 1988). These data show the ability of T. vaginalis to parasitize human vaginal epithelial cells in a specific receptor-ligand manner.
The precise role of Leishmania glycoconjugate molecules including phosphoglycans (PGs) and lipophosphoglycan (LPG) on host cellular responses is still poorly defined. Here, we investigated the interaction of Leishmania major LPG2 null mutant (lpg2−), which lacks both PGs and LPG, with dendritic cells (DCs) and the subsequent early immune response in infected mice. Surprisingly, the absence of phosphoglycans did not influence expression pattern of major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC II), CD40, CD80, and CD86 on DCs in vitro and in vivo. However, lpg2− L. major induced significantly higher production of interleukin-12p40 (IL-12p40) by infected bone marrow-derived DCs (BMDCs) than wild-type (WT) parasites in vitro. Furthermore, the production of IL-12p40 by draining lymph node cells from lpg2− mutant-infected mice was higher than those from WT L. major-infected mice. In model antigen presentation experiments, DCs from lpg2− mutant-infected mice induced more gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and IL-2 production by Leishmania-specific T cells than those from WT-infected mice. Lymphocytes isolated from mice infected for 3 days with lpg2− parasites produce similar levels of IFN-γ, but significantly less IL-4 and IL-10 than WT controls. Decreased IL-4 production was also seen in another general PG-deficient mutant lacking the Golgi UDP-galactose transporters (lpg5A− lpg5B−), but not with the lpg1− mutant lacking only LPG, thereby implicating PGs generally in the reduction of IL-4 production. Thus, Leishmania PGs influence host early immune response by modulating DC functions in a way that inhibits antigen presentation and promotes early IL-4 response, and their absence may impact the balance between Th1 and Th2 responses.
Vaginal trichomoniasis, caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, is the most common sexually transmitted disease. More than 170 million people worldwide are annually infected by this protozoan. In the Republic of Korea, 10.4% of women complaining of vaginal symptoms and signs were found to be infected with T. vaginalis. However, despite its high prevalence, the pathogenesis of T. vaginalis infection has not been clearly characterized although neutrophil infiltration is considered to be primarily responsible for the cytologic changes associated with this infection. We hypothesized that trichomonads in the vagina sometime after an acute infection secrete proteins like excretory-secretory product that have a chemotactic effect on neutrophils, and that these neutrophils are further stimulated by T. vaginalis to produce chemokines like IL-8 and GRO-α, which further promote neutrophil recruitment and chemotaxis. Thus, neutrophil accumulation is believed to maintain or aggravate inflammation. However, enhanced neutrophil apoptosis induced by live T. vaginalis could contribute to resolution of inflammation. Macrophages may constitute an important component of host defense against T. vaginalis infection. For example, mouse macrophages alone and those activated by lymphokines or nitric oxide are known to be involved in the extracellular killing of T. vaginalis. In the host, T. vaginalis uses a capping phenomenon to cleave host immunoglobulins with proteinases and thus escape from host immune responses. Recently, we developed a highly sensitive and specific diagnostic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique using primers based on a repetitive sequence cloned from T. vaginalis (TV-E650), and found that the method enables the detection of T. vaginalis at concentrations as low as 1 cell per PCR mixture.
Trichomonas vaginalis; trichomoniasis; pathogenesis; PCR; neutrophil; macrophage