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1.  Probiotic lactobacillus and estrogen effects on vaginal epithelial gene expression responses to Candida albicans 
Background
Vaginal epithelial cells have receptors, signal transduction mechanisms, and cytokine secretion capabilities to recruit host defenses against Candida albicans infections. This research evaluates how probiotic lactobacilli affect the defensive epithelial response.
Methods
This study used quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assay (qRT-PCR), flow cytometry, and a multiplex immunoassay to observe changes in the regulation of gene expression related to cytokine responses in the VK2 (E6/E7) vaginal epithelial cell line treated with 17β-estradiol, exposed to probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1® and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14® and challenged with C. albicans. Data were statistically evaluated by repeated measures analysis of variance and paired t-tests where appropriate.
Results
C. albicans induced mRNA expression of genes related to inflammatory cytokine responses associated with nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signal transduction pathways. 17β-estradiol suppressed expression of interleukin-1α (IL-1α), IL-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) mRNA. Probiotic lactobacilli suppressed C. albicans-induced nuclear factor-kappa B inhibitor kinase kinase alpha (Iκκα), Toll-like receptor-2 (TLR2), TLR6, IL-8, and TNFα, also suggesting inhibition of NF-κB signaling. The lactobacilli induced expression of IL-1α, and IL-1β mRNA, which was not inhibited by curcumin, suggesting that they induce an alternate inflammatory signal transduction pathway to NF-κB, such as the mitogen activated protein kinase and activator protein-1 (MAPK/AP-1) signal transduction pathway. Curcumin inhibited IL-13 secretion, suggesting that expression of this cytokine is mainly regulated by NF-κB signaling in VK2 cells.
Conclusions
The results suggest that C. albicans infection induces pro-inflammatory responses in vaginal epithelial cells, and estrogen and lactobacilli suppress expression of NF-κB-related inflammatory genes. Probiotic lactobacilli may induce IL-1α and IL-1β expression by an alternate signal transduction pathway, such as MAPK/AP-1. Activation of alternate signaling mechanisms by lactobacilli to modify epithelial cell cytokine production may be a mechanism for probiotic modulation of morbidity in vulvovaginal candidiasis.
doi:10.1186/1423-0127-19-58
PMCID: PMC3404894  PMID: 22715972
Probiotic; Epithelial cells; Gene expression; Signal transduction genes; Candidiasis; Estrogen
2.  IL-22 and IDO1 Affect Immunity and Tolerance to Murine and Human Vaginal Candidiasis 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(7):e1003486.
The ability to tolerate Candida albicans, a human commensal of the gastrointestinal tract and vagina, implicates that host defense mechanisms of resistance and tolerance cooperate to limit fungal burden and inflammation at the different body sites. We evaluated resistance and tolerance to the fungus in experimental and human vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) as well as in recurrent VVC (RVVC). Resistance and tolerance mechanisms were both activated in murine VVC, involving IL-22 and IL-10-producing regulatory T cells, respectively, with a major contribution by the enzyme indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase 1 (IDO1). IDO1 was responsible for the production of tolerogenic kynurenines, such that replacement therapy with kynurenines restored immunoprotection to VVC. In humans, two functional genetic variants in IL22 and IDO1 genes were found to be associated with heightened resistance to RVVC, and they correlated with increased local expression of IL-22, IDO1 and kynurenines. Thus, IL-22 and IDO1 are crucial in balancing resistance with tolerance to Candida, their deficiencies are risk factors for RVVC, and targeting tolerance via therapeutic kynurenines may benefit patients with RVVC.
Author Summary
This study disentangles resistance and tolerance components of murine and human C. albicans vaginal infection and introduces the challenging notion of a disease due to a defective tolerance mechanism. Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) and recurrent VVC (RVVC) are two forms of disease that affect a large number of otherwise healthy women. Uncomplicated VVC is associated with several predisposing factors, whereas RVVC, marked by idiopathic recurrent episodes, may be virtually untreatable. Despite a growing list of recognized risk factors, further understanding of anti-Candida host defense mechanisms in the vagina is needed to optimize vaccine development and immune interventions to integrate with, or even replace, antifungal therapy. Indeed, medical treatments that increase host resistance, such as antifungals, are highly effective for individual symptomatic attacks but do not prevent recurrences and there is concern that repeated treatments might induce drug resistance. As tolerance mechanisms are not expected to have the same selective pressure on pathogens, new drugs that target tolerance will provide therapies to which low-virulence pathogens, such as C. albicans, will not develop resistance. This study provides a proof-of-concept that targeting tolerance via therapeutic kynurenines may benefit patients with RVVC.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003486
PMCID: PMC3708875  PMID: 23853597
3.  Biotherapeutic effects of probiotic bacteria on candidiasis in immunodeficient mice. 
Infection and Immunity  1997;65(10):4165-4172.
Four species of probiotic bacteria were assessed for their capacities to protect athymic bg/bg-nu/nu and euthymic bg/bg-nu/+ mice from mucosal and systemic candidiasis. Each bacterial species and Candida albicans colonized the gastrointestinal tracts of both strains of mice. The presence of probiotic bacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus casei GG, or Bifidobacterium animalis) in the gastrointestinal tracts prolonged the survival of adult and neonatal bg/bg-nu/nu mice compared to that of isogenic mice colonized with C. albicans alone. The incidence of systemic candidiasis in bg/bg-nu/nu mice was significantly reduced by each of the four probiotic bacterial species. The numbers of C. albicans present in the alimentary tracts of euthymic bg/bg-nu/+ mice were significantly reduced by L. casei GG and B. animalis. None of the probiotic bacteria species completely prevented mucosal candidiasis, but B. animalis reduced its incidence and severity. Probiotic bacteria also modulated antibody- and cell-mediated immune responses to C. albicans. The prolonged survival of mice, decreased severity of mucosal and systemic candidiasis, modulation of immune responses, decreased number of C. albicans in the alimentary tract, and reduced numbers of orogastric infections demonstrated not only that probiotic bacteria have biotherapeutic potential for prophylaxis against and therapy of this fungal disease but also that probiotic bacteria protect mice from candidiasis by a variety of immunologic (thymic and extrathymic) and nonimmunologic mechanisms in this model.
PMCID: PMC175599  PMID: 9317023
4.  Use of Antifungal Saponin SC-2 of Solanum Chrysotrichum for the Treatment of Vulvovaginal Candidiasis: In Vitro Studies and Clinical Experiences 
Saponin SC-2 from Solanum chrysotrichum showed antifungal activity, demonstrated in vitro, which inhibited the growth of dermatophytes, and in vivo, to be effective in the treatment against tinea pedis and pityriasis capitis. Fungistatic and fungicidal activity of saponin SC-2 on Candida albicans and other Candida species, fluconazole and ketoconazole resistaent strains was demostrated. SC-2-associated ultrastructural alterations in several Candida species were observed. An exploratory clinical, randomized, double-blind, and controlled ketoconazole study of ketoconazole was conducted with the aim of assessing the effectiveness and tolerability of an herbal medicinal product containing SC-2, on women with Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). The results exhibited a percentage of therapeutic clinical effectiveness similar to that of ketoconazole (X2, p ≥0.30), but obtained a smaller percentage of mycological effectiveness, and 100% tolerability. In conclusion, saponin SC-2 possesses fungicidale and fungistatic activity on Candida albicans and other multi resistant Candida species, causes morphological changes and fungal death, and it is an alternative therapy for the treatment of VVC.
PMCID: PMC3777579  PMID: 24146467
Solanum chrysotrichum; saponins; antifungal activity; vulvovaginal candidiasis; alternative therapy
5.  In vivo activity of Sapindus saponaria against azole-susceptible and -resistant human vaginal Candida species 
Background
Study of in vivo antifungal activity of the hydroalcoholic extract (HE) and n-BuOH extract (BUTE) of Sapindus saponaria against azole-susceptible and -resistant human vaginal Candida spp.
Methods
The in vitro antifungal activity of HE, BUTE, fluconazole (FLU), and itraconazole (ITRA) was determined by the broth microdilution method. We obtained values of minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) and minimum fungicide concentration (MFC) for 46 strains of C. albicans and 10 of C. glabrata isolated from patients with vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). VVC was induced in hyperestrogenic Wistar rats with azole-susceptible C. albicans (SCA), azole-resistant C. albicans (RCA), and azole-resistant C. glabrata (RCG). The rats were treated intravaginally with 0.1 mL of HE or BUTE at concentrations of 1%, 2.5% and 5%; 100 μg/mL of FLU (treatment positive control); or distilled water (negative control) at 1, 24, and 48 h after induction of the infection, and the progress of VVC was monitored by culturing and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The toxicity was evaluated in cervical cells of the HeLa cell line.
Results
The extracts showed in vitro inhibitory and fungicidal activity against all the isolates, and the MIC and MFC values for the C. glabrata isolates were slightly higher. In vivo, the SCA, RCA, and RCG infections were eliminated by 21 days post-infection, with up to 5% HE and BUTE, comparable to the activity of FLU. No cytotoxic action was observed for either extract.
Conclusions
Our results demonstrated that HE and BUTE from S. saponaria show inhibitory and fungicidal activity in vitro, in addition to in vivo activity against azole-resistant vaginal isolates of C. glabrata and azole-susceptible and resistant isolates of C. albicans. Also considering the lack of cytotoxicity and the low concentrations of the extracts necessary to eliminate the infection in vivo, HE and BUTE show promise for continued studies with purified antifungal substances in VVC yeast isolates.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-35
PMCID: PMC3097010  PMID: 21542936
Sapindus saponaria; vaginal yeasts; antifungal activity; in vivo
6.  Growth inhibition of oral mutans streptococci and candida by commercial probiotic lactobacilli - an in vitro study 
BMC Oral Health  2010;10:18.
Background
Probiotic bacteria are suggested to play a role in the maintenance of oral health. Such health promoting bacteria are added to different commercial probiotic products. The aim of the study was to investigate the ability of a selection of lactobacilli strains, used in commercially available probiotic products, to inhibit growth of oral mutans streptococci and C. albicans in vitro.
Methods
Eight probiotic lactobacilli strains were tested for growth inhibition on three reference strains and two clinical isolates of mutans streptococci as well as two reference strains and three clinical isolates of Candida albicans with an agar overlay method.
Results
At concentrations ranging from 109 to 105 CFU/ml, all lactobacilli strains inhibited the growth of the mutans streptococci completely with the exception of L. acidophilus La5 that executed only a slight inhibition of some strains at concentrations corresponding to 107 and 105 CFU/ml. At the lowest cell concentration (103 CFU/ml), only L. plantarum 299v and L. plantarum 931 displayed a total growth inhibition while a slight inhibition was seen for all five mutans streptococci strains by L. rhamnosus LB21, L. paracasei F19, L. reuteri PTA 5289 and L. reuteri ATCC 55730. All the tested lactobacilli strains reduced candida growth but the effect was generally weaker than for mutans streptococci. The two L. plantarum strains and L. reuteri ATCC 55730 displayed the strongest inhibition on Candida albicans. No significant differences were observed between the reference strains and the clinical isolates.
Conclusion
The selected probiotic strains showed a significant but somewhat varying ability to inhibit growth of oral mutans streptococci and Candida albicans in vitro.
doi:10.1186/1472-6831-10-18
PMCID: PMC2908555  PMID: 20598145
7.  Antifungal Activity of Brazilian Propolis Microparticles against Yeasts Isolated from Vulvovaginal Candidiasis 
Propolis, a resinous compound produced by Apis mellifera L. bees, is known to possess a variety of biological activities and is applied in the therapy of various infectious diseases. The aim of this study was to evaluate the in vitro antifungal activity of propolis ethanol extract (PE) and propolis microparticles (PMs) obtained from a sample of Brazilian propolis against clinical yeast isolates of importance in the vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). PE was used to prepare the microparticles. Yeast isolates (n = 89), obtained from vaginal exudates of patients with VVC, were exposed to the PE and the PMs. Moreover, the main antifungal drugs used in the treatment of VVC (Fluconazole, Voriconazole, Itraconazole, Ketoconazole, Miconazole and Amphotericin B) were also tested. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) was determined according to the standard broth microdilution method. Some Candida albicans isolates showed resistance or dose-dependent susceptibility for the azolic drugs and Amphotericin B. Non-C. albicans isolates showed more resistance and dose-dependent susceptibility for the azolic drugs than C. albicans. However, all of them were sensitive or dose-dependent susceptible for Amphotericin B. All yeasts were inhibited by PE and PMs, with small variation, independent of the species of yeast. The overall results provided important information for the potential application of PMs in the therapy of VVC and the possible prevention of the occurrence of new symptomatic episodes.
doi:10.1093/ecam/neq029
PMCID: PMC3094883  PMID: 21607012
8.  Lactobacillus reuteri Protects Epidermal Keratinocytes from Staphylococcus aureus-Induced Cell Death by Competitive Exclusion 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2012;78(15):5119-5126.
Recent studies have suggested that the topical application of probiotic bacteria can improve skin health or combat disease. We have utilized a primary human keratinocyte culture model to investigate whether probiotic bacteria can inhibit Staphylococcus aureus infection. Evaluation of the candidate probiotics Lactobacillus reuteri ATCC 55730, Lactobacillus rhamnosus AC413, and Lactobacillus salivarius UCC118 demonstrated that both L. reuteri and L. rhamnosus, but not L. salivarius, reduced S. aureus-induced keratinocyte cell death in both undifferentiated and differentiated keratinocytes. Keratinocyte survival was significantly higher if the probiotic was applied prior to (P < 0.01) or simultaneously with (P < 0.01) infection with S. aureus but not when added after infection had commenced (P > 0.05). The protective effect of L. reuteri was not dependent on the elaboration of inhibitory substances such as lactic acid. L. reuteri inhibited adherence of S. aureus to keratinocytes by competitive exclusion (P = 0.026). L. salivarius UCC118, however, did not inhibit S. aureus from adhering to keratinocytes (P > 0.05) and did not protect keratinocyte viability. S. aureus utilizes the α5β1 integrin to adhere to keratinocytes, and blocking of this integrin resulted in a protective effect similar to that observed with probiotics (P = 0.03). This suggests that the protective mechanism for L. reuteri-mediated protection of keratinocytes was by competitive exclusion of the pathogen from its binding sites on the cells. Our results suggest that use of a topical probiotic prophylactically could inhibit the colonization of skin by S. aureus and thus aid in the prevention of infection.
doi:10.1128/AEM.00595-12
PMCID: PMC3416415  PMID: 22582077
9.  Genital Candida Species Detected in Samples from Women in Melbourne, Australia, before and after Treatment with Antibiotics 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(9):3213-3217.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) remains a common cause of morbidity, with three-quarters of women affected during their lifetimes. Use of antibiotics is an acknowledged trigger for VVC, which adversely affects women's physical and emotional health. Knowledge of patterns of genital Candida species-level identification is important for management, as Candida species other than Candida albicans often fail first-line treatment. A community sample of women with no vaginal symptoms, and who were prescribed antibiotics, was recruited into this study, where the incidence of genital colonization by various Candida species was documented, as well as symptoms of VVC plus relevant associations, before and after treatment with antibiotics. Self-collected low vaginal swabs were taken prior to and 8 days after completion of antibiotic treatment, and data on various potential risk factors for VVC were collected simultaneously, with complete data being available for 233 participants. Baseline Candida species colonization was present in 21% of women (95% confidence intervals [CI], 17% to 27%), rising to 37% (95% CI, 31% to 44%) after antibiotic treatment. The primary species detected for either period was C. albicans (73%), with Candida glabrata detected in around 20%. Self-assessed proneness to VVC after antibiotic treatment and baseline colonization with Candida spp. were significantly associated with symptomatic VVC after antibiotic treatment. For microbiologically proven candidiasis, VVC symptoms had a sensitivity of 57% and a specificity of 91%. When physicians prescribe antibiotics, the history of risk of VVC is one issue that physicians should discuss with women, particularly those who are self-identified as being prone to VVC. Furthermore, we recommend that definitive microbiological diagnoses be made for women with recurrent symptoms or those failing initial treatment, to guide appropriate therapy.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00218-06
PMCID: PMC1594690  PMID: 16954250
10.  Phenotypic Characterization and Antifungal Susceptibility Pattern to Fluconazole in Candida species Isolated from Vulvovaginal Candidiasis in a Tertiary Care Hospital 
Background: Vaginal candidiasis is a common gynecological finding among women worldwide. This study was carried out to determine the prevalence of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) along with speciation of Candida with special reference to its antifungal susceptibility pattern to fluconazole and also to evaluate the risk factors responsible for VVC in patients attending our tertiary care hospital in Puducherry, India.
Materials and Methods: This study was carried out in the tertiary care hospital in Puducherry during the period of August 2010 to September 2012.The study group consisted of 180 women between the age group of 15 to 56 years with the complaints of excessive vaginal discharge, pruritis and pain. Materials used for this study consisted of high vaginal swabs from patients with relevant history, attending Obstetrics & Gynecology department. High vaginal swabs were subjected to direct 10% KOH wet mount microscopy, Gram stain, culture onto Sabouraud’s dextrose agar (SDA) & 5% sheep blood agar and susceptibility testing to fluconazole was performed using E-test.
Results: Candida was isolated in 40 (22.2 %) women & these consisted of C. albicans 26 (65%), C. glabrata 9 (22.5%), C.tropicalis 3 (7.5%) & C. parapsilosis 2 (5%). Susceptibility test carried out on the 40 isolates revealed that 35 (87.5%) Candida isolates were sensitive to fluconazole, 3 (7.5%) were moderately sensitive and 2 (2.5%) were resistant. Thirty one percent patients had itching as the presenting complaints followed by vaginal discharge (29.4%).
Conclusion: The high frequency with which C. albicans was recovered in our study and its susceptibility to fluconazole supports the continued use of azole agents for empirical therapy of uncomplicated candidal vulvovaginitis in the community.
doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/7434.4311
PMCID: PMC4079993  PMID: 24995172
Candidiasis; Vulvovaginitis; Candida; Vulvovaginal candidiasis
11.  Effects of Reproductive Hormones on Experimental Vaginal Candidiasis 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(2):651-657.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is an opportunistic mucosal infection caused by Candida albicans that affects large numbers of otherwise healthy women of childbearing age. Acute episodes of VVC often occur during pregnancy and during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, when levels of progesterone and estrogen are elevated. Although estrogen-dependent experimental rodent models of C. albicans vaginal infection are used for many applications, the role of reproductive hormones and/or their limits in the acquisition of vaginal candidiasis remain unclear. This study examined the effects of estrogen and progesterone on several aspects of an experimental infection together with relative cell-mediated immune responses. Results showed that while decreasing estrogen concentrations eventually influenced infection-induced vaginal titers of C. albicans and rates of infection in inoculated animals, the experimental infection could not be achieved in mice treated with various concentrations of progesterone alone. Furthermore, progesterone had no effect on (i) the induction and persistence of the infection in the presence of estrogen, (ii) delayed-type hypersensitivity in primary-infected mice, or (iii) the partial protection from a secondary vaginal infection under pseudoestrus conditions. Other results with estrogen showed that a persistent infection could be established with a wide range of C. albicans inocula under supraphysiologic and near-physiologic (at estrus) concentrations of estrogen and that vaginal fungus titers or rates of infection were similar if pseudoestrus was initiated several days before or after inoculation. However, the pseudoestrus state had to be maintained for the infection to persist. Finally, estrogen was found to reduce the ability of vaginal epithelial cells to inhibit the growth of C. albicans. These results suggest that estrogen, but not progesterone, is an important factor in hormone-associated susceptibility to C. albicans vaginitis.
PMCID: PMC97188  PMID: 10639429
12.  Effect of pH on In Vitro Susceptibility of Candida glabrata and Candida albicans to 11 Antifungal Agents and Implications for Clinical Use 
The treatment of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) due to Candida glabrata is challenging, with limited therapeutic options. Unexplained disappointing clinical efficacy has been reported with systemic and topical azole antifungal agents in spite of in vitro susceptibility. Given that the vaginal pH of patients with VVC is unchanged at 4 to 4.5, we studied the effect of pH on the in vitro activity of 11 antifungal agents against 40 C. glabrata isolates and compared activity against 15 fluconazole-sensitive and 10 reduced-fluconazole-susceptibility C. albicans strains. In vitro susceptibility to flucytosine, fluconazole, voriconazole, posaconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole, clotrimazole, miconazole, ciclopirox olamine, amphotericin B, and caspofungin was determined using the CLSI method for yeast susceptibility testing. Test media were buffered to pHs of 7, 6, 5, and 4. Under conditions of reduced pH, C. glabrata isolates remained susceptible to caspofungin and flucytosine; however, there was a dramatic increase in the MIC90 for amphotericin B and every azole drug tested. Although susceptible to other azole drugs tested at pH 7, C. albicans strains with reduced fluconazole susceptibility also demonstrated reduced susceptibility to amphotericin B and all azoles at pH 4. In contrast, fluconazole-sensitive C. albicans isolates remained susceptible at low pH to azoles, in keeping with clinical observations. In selecting agents for treatment of recurrent C. glabrata vaginitis, clinicians should recognize the limitations of in vitro susceptibility testing utilizing pH 7.0.
doi:10.1128/AAC.05025-11
PMCID: PMC3294902  PMID: 22232293
13.  Clinical Characteristics of Turkish Women with Candida krusei Vaginitis and Antifungal Susceptibility of the C. krusei Isolates  
Objective. Candida krusei causes approximately 1% of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) cases and is naturally resistant to fluconazole. Antifungal testing may be required if C. krusei vaginitis fails to respond to non-fluconazole therapy, particularly in patients with recurrent infections. Design. We investigated the clinical characteristics and antifungal susceptibility profile of vaginal C. krusei isolates. Between 2009 and 2012, we identified 560 unrelated Candida spp.-positive vaginal cultures, of which 28 (5.0%) were C. krusei. These isolates were analyzed according to host factors and the clinical forms of VVC, and their in vitro susceptibility to 10 antifungal agents was tested using a reference microdilution method. Results. We observed that perineal laceration and increased age (>50 years) were significant predictors of C. krusei in vaginal samples (P < 0.05). All isolates were susceptible to amphotericin B, caspofungin, ketoconazole, and miconazole. Additionally, susceptible dose-dependent and resistant rates were found for fluconazole as 42.9% and 57.1%, respectively. Remarkably, only 42.9% and 67.9% of the isolates were susceptible to itraconazole and voriconazole, respectively. Conclusions. Understanding local susceptibility patterns, especially those of non-C. albicans Candida species, can significantly aid in the selection of an effective antifungal agent. The in vivo response of C. krusei vaginitis to various antifungal therapeutics remains unknown and requires further research.
doi:10.1155/2013/698736
PMCID: PMC3874352  PMID: 24396265
14.  Vaginal yeast colonisation, prevalence of vaginitis, and associated local immunity in adolescents 
Objectives: To evaluate point prevalence vaginal yeast colonisation and symptomatic vaginitis in middle adolescents and to identify relation of these yeast conditions with reproductive hormones, sexual activity, sexual behaviours, and associated local immunity.
Methods: Middle adolescent females (n = 153) were evaluated for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), asymptomatic yeast colonisation, and symptomatic vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) by standard criteria. Also evaluated were local parameters, including vaginal associated cytokines, chemokines, and antibodies, vaginal epithelial cell antifungal activity, and Candida specific peripheral blood lymphocyte responses. Correlations between yeast colonisation/vaginitis and local immunomodulators, reproductive hormones, douching, sexual activity, condom use, and STIs were identified.
Results: Rates of point prevalence asymptomatic yeast colonisation (22%) were similar to adults and similarly dominated by Candida albicans, but with uncharacteristically high vaginal yeast burden. In contrast with the high rate of STIs (18%), incidence of symptomatic VVC was low (<2%). Immunological properties included high rates of Candida specific systemic immune sensitisation, a Th2 type vaginal cytokine profile, total and Candida specific vaginal antibodies dominated by IgA, and moderate vaginal epithelial cell anti-Candida activity. Endogenous reproductive hormones were in low concentration. Sexual activity positively correlated with vaginal yeast colonisation, whereas vaginal cytokines (Th1, Th2, proinflammatory), chemokines, antibodies, contraception, douching, or condom use did not.
Conclusion: Asymptomatic vaginal yeast colonisation in adolescents is distinct in some ways with adults, and positively correlates with sexual activity, but not with local immunomodulators or sexual behaviours. Despite several factors predictive for VVC, symptomatic VVC was low compared to STIs.
doi:10.1136/sti.2002.003855
PMCID: PMC1758371  PMID: 14755036
15.  An evaluation of butoconazole nitrate 2% site release vaginal cream (Gynazole-1) compared to fluconazole 150 mg tablets (Diflucan) in the time to relief of symptoms in patients with vulvovaginal candidiasis. 
BACKGROUND: It is estimated that as many as 13 million cases of vulvovaginal infection occur in the United States annually, the majority of which are the result of Candida albicans infection. The symptoms of vulvovaginal infections are often painful and distressing to the patient. The objective of this study was to compare the time to symptomatic relief of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) with butoconazole nitrate 2% Site Release vaginal cream (Gynazole-1) and oral fluconazole 150 mg tablets (Diflucan). METHODS: This randomized, open-label, parallel study evaluated 181 female patients with moderate to severe symptoms of VVC. Patients were randomized to single-dose therapy with either butoconazole nitrate 2% Site Release vaginal cream or fluconazole. The primary outcome measure was the time to onset of first relief of symptoms. Secondary measures included the time to overall relief of symptoms and the reinfection rate over the first 30 days following treatment. The overall safety of both products was investigated through the collection of adverse event reports. RESULTS: The median time to first relief of symptoms occurred at 17.5 h for butoconazole patients as compared to 22.9 h for fluconazole patients (p < 0.001). The time at which 75% of patients experienced first relief of symptoms was 24.5 h versus 46.3 h for butoconazole and fluconazole, respectively (p < 0.001). By 12- and 24-h post-treatment, 44.4% and 72.8% of patients in the butoconazole treatment group reported first relief of symptoms versus 29.1% and 55.7% of patients in the fluconazole group (p = 0.044 and p = 0.024 respectively). In patients experiencing first relief of symptoms within 48 h of dosing, the median time to first relief of symptoms in the butoconazole treatment group was significantly shorter at 12.9 h compared to 20.7 h for the fluconazole treatment group (p = 0.048). There were no significant differences between the two groups with respect to time to total relief of symptoms or reoccurrence of infection within 30 days of treatment. Butoconazole therapy was shown to have fewer reported adverse events, including drug-related adverse events, than fluconazole therapy. Vulvovaginal pruritis and vulvovaginal burning were the most common drug-related adverse events attributed to butoconazole. Headache, diarrhea, nausea, upset stomach and skin sensitivity were the most common drug-related adverse events attributable to fluconazole. CONCLUSIONS: Single-dose butoconazole nitrate 2% Site Release vaginal cream provides statistically significant improvement in time to first relief of symptoms in the treatment of VVC compared to fluconazole. There is no difference between these two treatments with respect to total relief of symptoms or reinfection rate. Although there was no significant difference in the incidence of adverse events judged by the investigator to be treatment-related, butoconazole treatment did result in fewer patients experiencing adverse events than fluconazole.
doi:10.1080/10647440500240615
PMCID: PMC1784583  PMID: 16338779
16.  Role of probiotics in the prevention of the enteric colonization by Candida in preterm newborns: incidence of late-onset sepsis and neurological outcome 
Journal of Perinatology  2010;31(1):63-69.
Objective:
To evaluate the efficacy of probiotics in the prevention of gastrointestinal colonization by Candida species, of late-onset sepsis and neurological outcome in preterm newborns.
Study Design:
A prospective study was conducted in 249 preterms who were subdivided into three groups: one group (n=83) was supplemented with Lactobacillus (L.) reuteri, one group with L. rhamnosus (n=83) and the other with no supplementation (n=83). The fungal colonization in the gastrointestinal tract, the late onset of sepsis and clinical parameters were recorded. A neurological structured assessment was further performed at 1 year of age.
Result:
Candida stool colonization was significantly higher (P<0.01) in the control group than in the groups treated with probiotics. The L. reuteri group presented a significantly higher reduction in gastrointestinal symptoms than did the L. rhamnosus and control groups. Infants treated with probiotics showed a statistically significant lower incidence of abnormal neurological outcome than did the control group.
Conclusion:
The use of both probiotics seems to be effective in the prevention of gastrointestinal colonization by Candida, in the protection from late-onset sepis and in reducing abnormal neurological outcomes in preterms.
doi:10.1038/jp.2010.57
PMCID: PMC3016918  PMID: 20410904
probiotics; preterms; neurological assessment
17.  A Prospective Study of Vaginal Bacterial Flora and Other Risk Factors for Vulvovaginal Candidiasis 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2009;199(12):1883-1890.
Background:
It has been suggested that vaginal lactobacilli may reduce the risk of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), but supporting data are limited. Our objective was to determine the relationship between vaginal bacterial flora and VVC.
Methods:
We conducted a prospective cohort analysis among 151 Kenyan sex workers. At monthly follow-up, VVC was defined as the presence of yeast buds, pseudohyphae, or both on vaginal wet preparation or KOH preparation. Generalized estimating equations were used to identify correlates of VVC.
Results:
Participants returned for a median of 12 (interquartile range 11-12) visits. Vulvovaginal candidiasis was present at 162 visits, including 26 with symptomatic VVC. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) was associated with fewer episodes of VVC (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.29, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.16-0.50). After excluding women with concurrent BV, another possible cause of vaginal symptoms, the likelihood of symptomatic VVC was higher in those with yeast on vaginal wet preparation in the past 60 days (aOR 4.06, 95% CI 1.12-14.74) and those with concurrent vaginal Lactobacillus colonization (aOR 3.75, 95% CI 1.30-10.83).
Conclusions:
Contrary to a commonly posed hypothesis of a protective effect, we found that vaginal Lactobacillus colonization was associated with a >4-fold increase in the likelihood of symptomatic VVC.
doi:10.1086/599213
PMCID: PMC2743896  PMID: 19456235
Vulvovaginal candidiasis; Lactobacillus; bacterial vaginosis; women
18.  Vulvovaginal candidiasis in Mato Grosso, Brazil: pregnancy status, causative species and drugs tests 
Brazilian Journal of Microbiology  2011;42(4):1300-1307.
Causative agent in majority of VVC is Candida albicans, but infection due to non-C. albicans is common. Use of empiric antifungal therapy in Brazil due to syndromic management of vulvovaginitis could act as risk factor for increase resistance among VVC causative agents. From Mato Grosso patients, 160 with culture-proved among 404 women who had clinical symptoms of VVC, were enrolled in this study. 70 non-pregnant women and 90 pregnant women were included. Candida albicans was the most prevalent, representing 72.9% in the non-pregnant group and 92.3% in the pregnant group. Differences in species distribution were noted between the two groups, being C. parapsilosis the second more prevalent species among non-pregnant women. Susceptibility testing revealed high susceptibility to fluconazole (except for C. krusei), itraconazole, ketoconazole, and amphotericin B regardless the species (C. albicans, C. parapsilosis, C. tropicalis, C. glabrata, C. krusei) analyzed.
doi:10.1590/S1517-83822011000400009
PMCID: PMC3768752  PMID: 24031756
Vulvovaginal candidiasis; antifungal susceptibility testing; antifungal agents; Candida albicans
19.  The Acute Neutrophil Response Mediated by S100 Alarmins during Vaginal Candida Infections Is Independent of the Th17-Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46311.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) caused by Candida albicans affects a significant number of women during their reproductive ages. Clinical observations revealed that a robust vaginal polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN) migration occurs in susceptible women, promoting pathological inflammation without affecting fungal burden. Evidence to date in the mouse model suggests that a similar acute PMN migration into the vagina is mediated by chemotactic S100A8 and S100A9 alarmins produced by vaginal epithelial cells in response to Candida. Based on the putative role for the Th17 response in mucosal candidiasis as well as S100 alarmin induction, this study aimed to determine whether the Th17 pathway plays a role in the S100 alarmin-mediated acute inflammation during VVC using the experimental mouse model. For this, IL-23p19−/−, IL-17RA−/− and IL-22−/− mice were intravaginally inoculated with Candida, and vaginal lavage fluids were evaluated for fungal burden, PMN infiltration, the presence of S100 alarmins and inflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Compared to wild-type mice, the cytokine-deficient mice showed comparative levels of vaginal fungal burden and PMN infiltration following inoculation. Likewise, inoculated mice of all strains with substantial PMN infiltration exhibited elevated levels of vaginal S100 alarmins in both vaginal epithelia and secretions in the vaginal lumen. Finally, cytokine analyses of vaginal lavage fluid from inoculated mice revealed equivalent expression profiles irrespective of the Th17 cytokine status or PMN response. These data suggest that the vaginal S100 alarmin response to Candida does not require the cells or cytokines of the Th17 lineage, and therefore, the immunopathogenic inflammatory response during VVC occurs independently of the Th17-pathway.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046311
PMCID: PMC3457984  PMID: 23050010
20.  Complexity of vaginal microflora as analyzed by PCR denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis in a patient with recurrent bacterial vaginosis. 
OBJECTIVE: Gardnerella vaginalis has long been the most common pathogen associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV). We aimed to test our hypothesis that symptoms and signs of BV do not necessarily indicate colonization by this organism, and often will not respond to standard metronidazole or clindamycin treatment. METHODS: Using a relatively new molecular tool, PCR denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE), the vaginal microflora of a woman with recalcitrant signs and symptoms of BV was investigated over a 6-week timeframe. RESULTS: The vagina was colonized by pathogenic enterobacteriaceae, staphylococci and Candida albicans. The detection of the yeast by PCR-DGGE is particularly novel and enhances the ability of this tool to examine the true nature of the vaginal microflora. The patient had not responded to antifungal treatment, antibiotic therapy targeted at anaerobic Gram-negative pathogens such as Gardnerella, nor daily oral probiotic intake of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG. The failure to find the GG strain in the vagina indicated it did not reach the site, and the low counts of lactobacilli demonstrated that therapy with this probiotic did not appear to influence the vaginal flora. CONCLUSIONS: BV is not well understood in terms of its causative organisms, and further studies appear warranted using non-culture, molecular methods. Only when the identities of infecting organisms are confirmed can effective therapy be devized. Such therapy may include the use of probiotic lactobacilli, but only using strains which confer a benefit on the vagina of pre- and postmenopausal women.
doi:10.1080/10647440400025504
PMCID: PMC1784553  PMID: 16040324
21.  Usage of antifungal drugs for therapy of genital Candida infections, purchased as over-the-counter products or by prescription: 2. Factors that may have influenced the marked changes in sales volumes during the 1990s. 
BACKGROUND: The epidemiology of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) and such recurrent infections (RVVC) has been difficult to study as the majority of episodes of these conditions are self-treated by the women affected. In Sweden, all pharmacies are owned by the state and all prescriptions and over-the-counter (OTC) products, such as antifungals, are registered in a database, which offers unique possibilities to study the epidemiology of VVC/RVVC. OBJECTIVES: To analyze all prescriptions and OTC products purchased for therapy of VVC/RVVC and to establish reasons for any observed variation in the sales figures. METHODS: Sales figures in the Swedish county of Skåne of antifungal drugs for therapy of VVC/RVVC were analyzed by the aid of the 'ACS' database of the National Corporation of Swedish Pharmacies for the years 1990--1999. The size of the female population in the county is approximately half a million. RESULTS: The study showed that 93% of all antifungal drugs for VVC/RVVC were sold as OTC products. An increase in sales of the drugs occurred until mid- 1993/94, followed by a decrease until end of the study period in 1999. Demographic factors (e.g. the number of female inhabitants in the county, pharmacies and health-care units), the pregnancy rate and pharmacy-dependent factors (such as the introduction of shelves for self-selection of antifungal products) did not explain the observed variations in sales. Distinct short-term variations in the number of prescriptions of fluconazole and itraconazole could be explained by drugs company sales campaigns and logistics factors in drug distribution. The sales volumes in the 33 municipalities in the county correlated with the density of the population, which was not the case for the total number of prescriptions made in the county during the 1990s. The variation in antifungal drug sales was similar to that of hormonal intrauterine devices, but this was not the case for oral contraceptives. The total Swedish usage of antibiotics showed a similar variation to that of the antifungal drugs analyzed. CONCLUSION: The study stresses the limited impact on the treatment of VVC/RVVC by the medical community. Behavior-related factors in the female population are the most likely explanation for the marked variations found in the usage of drugs for the two conditions.
PMCID: PMC1784592  PMID: 15739824
22.  Susceptibility Pattern of Various Azoles Against Candida Species Causing Vulvovaginal Candidiasis 
Objectives
Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is a common gynecological finding among the women worldwide. Candida species are often less susceptible to antifungal agents. Owing to this fact, in this study, we aimed at assessing the prevalence rate and antimicrobial susceptibility pattern of various azoles against Candida species causing VVC in symptomatic women.
Methods
The prospective study included 217 female patients with symptoms of vaginal discharges. Specimens were characterized microscopically and were subjected to antimicrobial susceptibility testing against various azoles according to NCCLSM44 disk-diffusion method.
Results
VVC was detected in 18.4 % of the cases. Based on age distribution, the highest rate of Candida infection was observed in the age group of 20–29 years (42.5 %). Antifungal susceptibility revealed that fluconazole was highly effective against Candida Species (97.2 %); on the contrary, the highest resistance was observed in the case of miconazole (63 %).
Conclusion
In the current study, prevalence rate of VVC was found to be 18.4 %, and among the various azoles tested, fluconazole has the highest antimicrobial activity.
doi:10.1007/s13224-012-0280-3
PMCID: PMC3664691  PMID: 24431621
Vulvovaginal candidiasis; Fluconazole; Miconazole
23.  Diverse Vaginal Microbiomes in Reproductive-Age Women with Vulvovaginal Candidiasis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79812.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is one of the most prevalent vaginal infectious diseases, and there are controversial reports regarding the diversity of the associated vaginal microbiota. We determined the vaginal microbial community in patients with VVC, bacterial vaginosis (BV), and mixed infection of VVC and BV using Illumina sequencing of 16S rRNA tags. Our results revealed for the first time the highly variable patterns of the vaginal microbiome from VVC patients. In general, the alpha-diversity results of species richness and evenness showed the following order: normal control < VVC only < mixed BV and VVC infection < BV only. The beta-diversity comparison of community structures also showed an intermediate composition of VVC between the control and BV samples. A detailed comparison showed that, although the control and BV communities had typical patterns, the vaginal microbiota of VVC is complex. The mixed BV and VVC infection group showed a unique pattern, with a relatively higher abundance of Lactobacillus than the BV group and higher abundance of Prevotella, Gardnerella, and Atopobium than the normal control. In contrast, the VVC-only group could not be described by any single profile, ranging from a community structure similar to the normal control (predominated with Lactobacillus) to BV-like community structures (abundant with Gardnerella and Atopobium). Treatment of VVC resulted in inconsistent changes of the vaginal microbiota, with four BV/VVC samples recovering to a higher Lactobacillus level, whereas many VVC-only patients did not. These results will be useful for future studies on the role of vaginal microbiota in VVC and related infectious diseases.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079812
PMCID: PMC3827160  PMID: 24265786
24.  Survival of Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG in the Human Gastrointestinal Tract with Daily Consumption of a Low-Fat Probiotic Spread▿  
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2009;75(19):6198-6204.
Probiotics are live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Therefore, probiotic strains should be able to survive passage through the human gastrointestinal tract. Human gastrointestinal tract survival of probiotics in a low-fat spread matrix has, however, never been tested. The objective of this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human intervention study was to test the human gastrointestinal tract survival of Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG after daily consumption of a low-fat probiotic spread by using traditional culturing, as well as molecular methods. Forty-two healthy human volunteers were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups provided with 20 g of placebo spread (n = 13), 20 g of spread with a target dose of 1 × 109 CFU of L. reuteri DSM 17938 (n = 13), or 20 g of spread with a target dose of 5 × 109 CFU of L. rhamnosus GG (n = 16) daily for 3 weeks. Fecal samples were obtained before and after the intervention period. A significant increase, compared to the baseline, in the recovery of viable probiotic lactobacilli in fecal samples was demonstrated after 3 weeks of daily consumption of the spread containing either L. reuteri DSM 17938 or L. rhamnosus GG by selective enumeration. In the placebo group, no increase was detected. The results of selective enumeration were supported by quantitative PCR, detecting a significant increase in DNA resulting from the probiotics after intervention. Overall, our results indicate for the first time that low-fat spread is a suitable carrier for these probiotic strains.
doi:10.1128/AEM.01054-09
PMCID: PMC2753077  PMID: 19684171
25.  Cytokines in the host response to Candida vaginitis: Identifying a role for non-classical immune mediators, S100 alarmins 
Cytokine  2011;58(1):118-128.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), caused by Candida albicans, affects a significant number of women during their reproductive years. More than two decades of research have been focused on the mechanisms associated with susceptibility or resistance to symptomatic infection. Adaptive immunity by Th1-type CD4+ T cells and downstream cytokine responses are considered the predominant host defense mechanisms against mucosal Candida infections. However, numerous clinical and animal studies have indicated no or limited protective role of cells and cytokines of the Th1 or Th2 lineage against vaginal infection. The role for Th17 is only now begun to be investigated in-depth for VVC with results already showing significant controversy. On the other hand, a clinical live-challenge study and an established animal model have shown that a symptomatic condition is intimately associated with the vaginal infiltration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) but with no effect on vaginal fungal burden. Subsequent studies identified S100A8 and S100A9 Alarmins as key chemotactic mediators of the acute PMN response. These chemotactic danger signals appear to be secreted by vaginal epithelial cells upon interaction and early adherence of Candida. Thus, instead of a putative immunodeficiency against Candida involving classical immune cells and cytokines of the adaptive response, the pathological inflammation in VVC is now considered a consequence of a non-productive innate response initiated by non-classical immune mediators.
doi:10.1016/j.cyto.2011.11.021
PMCID: PMC3290723  PMID: 22182685
Candida albicans; vaginitis; epithelial cells; inflammation; S100A8; S100A9

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