Women with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis often demonstrate a down-regulation of cell-mediated immunity (CMI) to Candida albicans detected by a lack of cutaneous delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) to Candida antigens. However, the role of systemic CMI as a host defense mechanism against recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis is not well understood, in part because of the lack of a well-defined murine model of vaginal candidiasis. The present study was undertaken to determine: (i) whether soluble Candida culture filtrate antigens (CaCF) could be used to induce and detect Candida-specific CMI in mice and (ii) whether these antigens would be useful in detecting systemic CMI in mice given an experimental Candida vaginal infection. To this end, mice were immunized subcutaneously with CaCF in complete Freund's adjuvant, and within 7 days they developed Candida-specific DTH reactivity detected by footpad swelling (increase in footpad thickness, 0.36 mm) 24 h after footpad challenge with CaCF. Adoptive transfer studies showed that the DTH responsiveness was elicited by CD4+ DTH T cells. In mice given a vaginal inoculum of C. albicans blastoconidia (5 x 10(5)), footpad challenge with CaCF resulted in positive DTH responses (0.24 mm) as early as 1 week, responses similar to immunization in 2 to 3 weeks (0.33 mm), and sustained low levels of DTH reactivity (0.15 mm) through 10 weeks of vaginal infection. Vaginal lavage cultures revealed that peak vaginal Candida burden occurred 1 week post-vaginal inoculation (10(5) CFU) and declined 16-fold by week 10. These results provide evidence that Candida-specific systemic CMI is generated and can be detected longitudinally in mice with Candida vaginitis by a multiantigen preparation of Candida organisms which both initiates and detects Candida-specific CMI.
It has been postulated that systemic cell-mediated immunity (CMI) is an important host defense factor against recurrent vaginal infections caused by Candida albicans. Using an estrogen-dependent murine model of vaginal candidiasis, we have previously shown that mice inoculated vaginally with C. albicans acquire a persistent vaginal infection and develop Candida-specific Th1-type systemic CMI. In the present study, experimental vaginitis was monitored in the presence of preinduced systemic Candida-specific CMI. Mice immunized systemically with C. albicans culture filtrate antigens (CaCF) in complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) had Th1-type reactivity similar to that of vaginally infected mice. CaCF given to mice intravenously induced Candida-specific suppressor T (Ts) cells. Mice preimmunized with CaCF-CFA and given a vaginal inoculum of C. albicans had positive delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) reactivity from the time of vaginal inoculation through 4 weeks. Conversely, mice infected in the presence of Ts cells had significantly reduced DTH responses throughout the 4-week period in comparison with naive infected mice. However, the presence of Th1-type Candida-specific DTH cells or Ts cells, either induced in mice prior to vaginal inoculation or adoptively transferred at the time of inoculation, had no effect on the vaginal Candida burden through 4 weeks of infection. A similar lack of effects was obtained in animals with lower Candida population levels resulting from a reduction in or absence of exogenous estrogen. These results suggest that systemic Th1-type CMI demonstrable with CaCF is unrelated to protective events at the level of the vaginal mucosa.
It has been postulated that systemic cell-mediated immunity (CMI) is an important host defense mechanism against Candida infections of the vagina. However, in an estrogen-dependent murine model of experimental vaginal candidiasis, we recently showed that systemic Candida-specific Th1-type CMI induced by immunization with Candida culture filtrate antigen had no effect on vaginal Candida population levels during the course of a vaginal infection. In the present study, mice given a second vaginal inoculation in the presence of peripheral Candida-specific Th1-type CMI induced by prior vaginal infection had anamnestic-type increased delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses, concomitant with significantly fewer Candida organisms in the vagina than in primary-infected mice. In addition, organisms in secondary-infected mice were fragmented and superficial penetration into the epithelium was reduced. The systemic presence of Candida-specific T suppressor (Ts) cells that significantly suppressed the infection-derived anamnestic DTH reactivity did not abrogate the protective effect in the vagina. Additional experiments showed that vaginally immunized mice were not protected from gastrointestinal or systemic candidiasis and, in contrast to mice with a second vaginal infection, did not demonstrate anamnestic DTH reactivity. These results suggest that a moderate level of local protection against a Candida vaginal infection can be achieved by vaginal immunization but that the protective role of acquired peripheral Candida-specific Th1-type reactivity at the vaginal mucosa appears to be limited.
The etiology of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis in otherwise healthy women of child-bearing age remains an enigma. To date, results from both clinical studies and a murine model of vaginal candidiasis indicate that Candida vaginitis can occur in the presence of Candida-specific Th1-type cell-mediated immunity expressed in the peripheral circulation. The present study was designed to determine the role of circulating CD4 and CD8 cells in primary and secondary vaginal infections with Candida albicans. Vaginal fungal burden, Candida-specific delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH), and lymph node cell Th1/Th2 cytokine production were monitored in CD4 and/or CD8 cell-depleted mice during persistent primary vaginal infections and secondary vaginal infections against which partial protection was observed. Treatment of mice with anti-CD4 or anti-CD8 antibodies resulted in 90% or greater depletion of the respective cell populations. Mice depleted of CD4 cells had significantly reduced Candida-specific DTH and lymph node cell Th1-type cytokine production during a primary vaginal infection, as well as reduced anamnestic DTH during a secondary vaginal infection. In contrast, mice depleted of CD8 cells showed only reduced gamma interferon production during a primary infection; no alterations in DTH were observed. Despite reductions in DTH and cytokine production, however, CD4 and/or CD8 cell depletion had no effect on vaginal C. albicans burden in mice after a primary or secondary vaginal inoculation. Taken together, these results suggest that while circulating CD4 and CD8 cells contribute to systemic Candida-specific cell-mediated immunity in vaginally infected mice, neither CD4 nor CD8 circulating T cells appear to provide significant host defenses against C. albicans at the vaginal mucosa.
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.
Humoral (antibody [Ab]) and cellular Candida-specific immune responses in the vaginas of pseudoestrus rats were investigated during three successive infections by Candida albicans. After the first, protective infection, Abs against mannan and aspartyl proteinase antigens were present in the vaginal fluid, and their titers clearly increased during the two subsequent, rapidly healing infections. In all animals, about 65 and 10% of vaginal lymphocytes (VL) were CD3+ (T cells) and CD3− CD5+ (B cells), respectively. Two-thirds of the CD3+ T cells expressed the α/β and one-third expressed the γ/δ T-cell receptor (TCR). This proportion slightly fluctuated during the three rounds of C. albicans infection, but no significant differences between infected and noninfected rats were found. More relevant were the changes in the CD4+/CD8+ T-cell ratio, particularly for cells bearing the CD25 (interleukin-2 receptor α) marker. In fact, a progressively increased number of both CD4+ α/β TCR and CD4+ CD25+ VL was observed after the second and third Candida challenges, reversing the high initial CD8+ cell number of controls (estrogenized but uninfected rats). The CD3− CD5+ cells also almost doubled from the first to the third infection. Analysis of the cytokines secreted in the vaginal fluid of Candida-infected rats showed high levels of interleukin 12 (IL-12) during the first infection, followed by progressively increasing amounts of IL-2 and gamma interferon during the subsequent infections. No IL-4 or IL-5 was ever detected. During the third infection, VL with in vitro proliferative activity in response to an immunodominant mannoprotein antigen of C. albicans were present in the vaginal tissue. No response to this antigen by mitogen-responsive blood, lymph node, and spleen cells was found. In summary, the presence of protective Ab and T helper type 1 cytokines in the vaginal fluids, the in vitro proliferation of vaginal lymphocytes in response to Candida antigenic stimulation, and the increased number of activated CD4+ cells and some special B lymphocytes after C. albicans challenge constitute good evidence for induction of locally expressed Candida-specific Ab and cellular responses which are potentially involved in anticandidal protection at the vaginal level.
Protective host defense mechanisms against vaginal Candida albicans infections are poorly understood. Although cell-mediated immunity (CMI) is the predominant host defense mechanism against most mucosal Candida infections, the role of CMI against vaginal candidiasis is uncertain, both in humans and in an experimental mouse model. The role of humoral immunity is equally unclear. While clinical observations suggest a minimal role for antibodies against vaginal candidiasis, an experimental rat model has provided evidence for a protective role for Candida-specific immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies. Additionally, Candida vaccination-induced IgM and IgG3 antibodies are protective in a mouse model of vaginitis. In the present study, the role of infection-induced humoral immunity in protection against experimental vaginal candidiasis was evaluated through the quantification of Candida-specific IgA, IgG, and IgM antibodies in serum and vaginal lavage fluids of mice with primary and secondary (partially protected) infection. In naïve mice, total, but not Candida-specific, antibodies were detected in serum and lavage fluids, consistent with lack of yeast colonization in mice. In infected mice, Candida-specific IgA and IgG antibodies were induced in serum with anamnestic responses to secondary infection. In lavage fluid, while Candida-specific antibodies were detectable, concentrations were extremely low with no anamnestic responses in mice with secondary infection. The incorporation of alternative protocols—including infections in a different strain of mice, prolongation of primary infection prior to secondary challenge, use of different enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay capture antigens, and concentration of lavage fluid—did not enhance local Candida-specific antibody production or detection. Additionally, antibodies were not removed from lavage fluids by being bound to Candida during infection. Together, these data suggest that antibodies are not readily present in vaginal secretions of infected mice and thus have a limited natural protective role against infection.
Although Th1-type cell-mediated immunity (CMI) is the predominant host defense mechanism against mucosal Candida albicans infection, CMI against a vaginal C. albicans infection in mice is limited at the vaginal mucosa despite a strong Candida-specific Th1-type response in the draining lymph nodes. In contrast, Th1-type CMI is highly effective against an experimental Chlamydia trachomatis genital tract infection. This study demonstrated through two independent designs that a concurrent Candida and Chlamydia infection could not accelerate or modulate the anti-Candida CMI response. Together, these results suggest that host responses to these genital tract infections are independent and not influenced by the presence of the other.
Recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis, caused by Candida albicans, is a significant problem in women of childbearing age. Although cell-mediated immunity (CMI) due to T cells and cytokines is the predominant host defense mechanism against C. albicans at mucosal tissue sites, host defense mechanisms against C. albicans at the vaginal mucosa are poorly understood. Based on an estrogen-dependent murine model of vaginal candidiasis, our data suggest that systemic CMI is ineffective against C. albicans vaginal infections. Thus, we have postulated that local immune mechanisms are critical for protection against infection. In the present study, the kinetic production of chemokines normally associated with the chemotaxis of T cells, macrophages (RANTES, MIP-1α, MCP-1), and polymorphonuclear neutrophils (MIP-2) was examined following intravaginal inoculation of C. albicans in estrogen-treated or untreated mice. Results showed significant increases in MCP-1 protein and mRNA in vaginal tissue of infected mice as early as 2 and 4 days postinoculation, respectively, that continued through a 21-day observation period, irrespective of estrogen status. No significant changes were observed with RANTES, MIP-1α, or MIP-2, although relatively high constitutive levels of RANTES mRNA and MIP-2 protein were observed. Furthermore, intravaginal immunoneutralization of MCP-1 with anti-MCP-1 antibodies resulted in a significant increase in vaginal fungal burden early during infection, suggesting that MCP-1 plays some role in reducing the fungal burden during vaginal infection. However, the lack of changes in leukocyte profiles in vaginal lavage fluids collected from infected versus uninfected mice suggests that MCP-1 functions to control vaginal C. albicans titers in a manner independent of cellular chemotactic activity.
Cell-mediated immunity by Th1-type CD4+ T cells is the predominant host defense mechanism against mucosal candidiasis. However, studies using an estrogen-dependent murine model of vaginal candidiasis have demonstrated little to no change in resident vaginal T cells during infection and no systemic T-cell infiltration despite the presence of Candida-specific systemic Th1-type responses in infected mice. The present study was designed to further investigate these observations by characterizing T-cell activation and cell adhesion molecule expression during primary and secondary C. albicans vaginal infections. While flow cytometry analysis of activation markers showed some evidence for activation of CD3+ draining lymph node and/or vaginal lymphocytes during both primary and secondary vaginal Candida infection, CD3+ cells expressing the homing receptors and integrins α4β7, αM290β7, and α4β1 in draining lymph nodes of mice with primary and secondary infections were reduced compared to results for uninfected mice. At the local level, few vaginal lymphocytes expressed integrins, with only minor changes observed during both primary and secondary infections. On the other hand, immunohistochemical analysis of vaginal cell adhesion molecule expression showed increases in mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule 1 and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 expression during both primary and secondary infections. Altogether, these data suggest that although the vaginal tissue is permissive to cellular infiltration during a vaginal Candida infection, the reduced numbers of systemic cells expressing the reciprocal cellular adhesion molecules may preempt cellular infiltration, thereby limiting Candida-specific T-cell responses against infection.
We previously reported that a vaccine composed of liposome-mannan complexes of Candida albicans (L-mann) stimulates mice to produce protective antibodies against disseminated candidiasis. An immunoglobulin M (IgM) monoclonal antibody (MAb), B6.1, specific for a β-1,2-mannotriose in the complexes protects against the disease, whereas MAb B6 does not. In the present study, the vaccine and MAbs B6.1 and B6 were tested for the ability to protect against Candida vaginal infection, established by intravaginal (i.vg.) inoculation of yeast cells in mice maintained in pseudoestrus. Fungal CFU in each vagina was determined to assess the severity of infection. Mice vaccinated before infection developed about 62% fewer vaginal CFU than nonimmunized controls. Naive mice that received polyclonal antiserum (from vaccinated mice) i.vg. before infection had 60% fewer CFU than controls. The serum protective factor was stable at 56°C, but C. albicans cells absorbed this factor. Mice given MAb B6.1 i.vg. after infection was established had fewer Candida CFU in vaginal tissue than control mice given buffer instead of antibody. MAbs B6.1 and B6 given intraperitoneally before infection protected mice, but MAbs preabsorbed with yeast cells did not. MAb B6.1 also protected against C. tropicalis vaginal infection, but MAb B6 did not. The protective activities of MAbs B6.1 and B6 appeared to be specific because an irrelevant IgM carbohydrate-specific MAb and an irrelevant IgG protein-specific MAb were not protective; also, MAb B6.1 did not affect development of vaginal chlamydial infection. These studies show that an appropriate antibody response, or administration of protective antibodies, can help the host to resist Candida vaginal infection.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) caused by the commensal organism Candida albicans remains a significant problem among women of childbearing age, with protection against and susceptibility to infection still poorly understood. While cell-mediated immunity by CD4+ Th1-type cells is protective against most forms of mucosal candidiasis, no protective role for adaptive immunity has been identified against VVC. This is postulated to be due to immunoregulation that prohibits a more profound Candida-specific CD4+ T-cell response against infection. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of dendritic cells (DCs) in the induction phase of the immune response as a means to understand the initiation of the immunoregulatory events. Immunostaining of DCs in sectioned murine lymph nodes draining the vagina revealed a profound cellular reorganization with DCs becoming concentrated in the T-cell zone throughout the course of experimental vaginal Candida infection consistent with cell-mediated immune responsiveness. However, analysis of draining lymph node DC subsets revealed a predominance of immunoregulation-associated CD11c+ B220+ plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) under both uninfected and infected conditions. Staining of vaginal DCs showed the presence of both DEC-205+ and pDCs, with extension of dendrites into the vaginal lumen of infected mice in close contact with Candida. Flow cytometric analysis of draining lymph node DC costimulatory molecules and activation markers from infected mice indicated a lack of upregulation of major histocompatibility complex class II, CD80, CD86, and CD40 during infection, consistent with a tolerizing condition. Together, the results suggest that DCs are involved in the immunoregulatory events manifested during a vaginal Candida infection and potentially through the action of pDCs.
Mannan (MAN) extracted from Candida albicans 20A was investigated for its potential as an antigen in the detection of cell-mediated immunity (CMI) in vivo and in vitro and for its ability to modulate CMI when administered intravenously (i.v.). CBA/J mice were either immunized as adults by the cutaneous inoculation of 10(6) viable blastoconidia or colonized as infants (primed) and then boosted cutaneously as adults. When immunized animals were footpad tested with MAN, highly significant delayed-type hypersensitivity (DH) responses were detected. The DH responses to MAN were of a greater magnitude than those noted with the same quantity of cell wall glycoprotein (GP), an ethylenediamine extract of the cell wall which contains both glucan and MAN. In contrast, GP was a better antigen for the detection of CMI responses in an in vitro lymphoproliferative assay with either spleen or lymph node cell suspensions. Mice treated with MAN i.v. prior to the initiation of immunization or between priming and secondary inoculations developed significantly suppressed DH reactions when tested with either MAN or GP. The lowest effective dose of MAN was 250 micrograms, maximum suppression occurred with 500 micrograms, and either dose given 1 week prior to immunization was suppressive. The suppression by MAN was specific for MAN or the MAN-containing GP. Responses to another unrelated candidal antigen, a membrane extract designated BEX, were relatively unaffected. MAN, therefore, was an effective antigen for the detection of CMI in vivo, and its administration i.v. created what appeared to be a MAN-specific suppression since it could be detected with both MAN and a MAN-containing extract from the cell wall. Caution must be exercised in the interpretation of these data, however, since the protein component of each of these extracts has not been characterized with respect to its potential role in the phenomena observed.
The results from both clinical studies of women with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis and a murine model of experimental vaginitis indicate that systemic cell-mediated immunity may not represent a dominant host defense mechanism against vaginal infections by Candida albicans. Recent experimental evidence indicates the presence of local vaginal immune reactivity against C. albicans. The present study was designed to examine T-lymphocyte subpopulations in the vaginal mucosae of naive CBA/J mice. Vaginal lymphocytes (VL) were isolated by collagenase digestion of whole vaginal tissues. Cell populations were identified by flow cytometry, and the results were compared with those for both lymph node cells (LNC) and peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL). The results of flow cytometry showed that 45% +/- 10% of lymphocytes in the vaginal mucosa are CD3+ compared with 75% +/- 5% in LNC and 50% +/- 5% in PBL. The majority (85%) of CD3+ VL are CD4+ and express the alpha/beta T-cell receptor (TCR), similar to the results for LNC and PBL. In contrast to LNC and PBL, VL contain a significantly higher percentage (15 to 20%) of gamma/delta TCR+ cells, 80% or more of which appear to express CD4. In addition, while CD4-CD8 cell ratios in LNC and PBL were 3:1 and 6:1, respectively, only 1% of VL expressed CD8, resulting in a CD4-CD8 cell ratio of > 100:1. Finally, while LNC and PBL recognized two epitope-distinct (GK 1.5 and 2B6) anti-CD4 antibodies, VL recognized only 2B6 anti-CD4 antibodies. Further analysis of VL showed that Thy-1 cells, but not CD4 cells, were reduced after intravaginal injection of complement-fixing anti-Thy-1.2 and GK 1.5 anti-CD4 antibodies, respectively. Taken together, these data suggest that T lymphocytes in the vaginal mucosae of mice are phenotypically distinct from those in the periphery and that CD4+ VL have an uncharacteristic or atypical expression of the CD4 receptor.
Studies with an estrogen-dependent murine model of vaginal candidiasis suggest that local cell-mediated immunity (CMI) is more important than systemic CMI for protection against vaginitis. The present study, however, showed that, compared to uninfected mice, little to no change in the percentage or types of vaginal T cells occurred during a primary vaginal infection or during a secondary vaginal infection where partial protection was observed. Furthermore, depletion of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) had no effect on infection in the presence or absence of pseudoestrus. These results indicate a lack of demonstrable effects by systemic CMI or PMN against vaginitis and suggest that if local T cells are important, they are functioning without showing significant increases in numbers within the vaginal mucosa during infection.
Immune regulation in candidiasis is inferred from studies of both human and animal infection, with a suppressive role suggested for cell wall polysaccharide. To study the immunosuppressive potential of Candida albicans in a murine model, whole blastoconidia or purified cell wall components of C. albicans were tested for their effects on the development of acquired immune responses by superimposing a pretreatment regimen upon an established immunization protocol. CBA/J or BALB/cByJ mice were pretreated twice intravenously with 100 micrograms of mannan (MAN), 100 or 200 micrograms of glycoprotein (GP), or 5 X 10(7) heat-killed C. albicans blastoconidia, followed 1 week later by an immunization protocol of two cutaneous inoculations of viable C. albicans blastoconidia given 2 weeks apart. Delayed hypersensitivity (DTH) to GP or to a membrane-derived antigen, B-HEX, was tested 7 days after the second inoculation, and lymphocyte stimulation was tested with mitogens and Candida antigens after 12 days. To assess protection, mice were challenged intravenously with viable C. albicans blastoconidia 14 days after the second cutaneous inoculation and sacrificed 28 days later for quantitative culture of kidneys and brains. Sera were obtained for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays at selected intervals. Pretreatment with GP resulted in specific in vivo suppression of DTH to GP but not to B-HEX antigen and specific in vitro suppression of lymphocyte stimulation to GP but not to other Candida antigens or mitogens. MAN and heat-killed C. albicans blastoconidia had no such effects. GP pretreatment also diminished the protective effect of immunization against challenge, demonstrable in the brain, while not altering significantly the production of antibody in response to infection. Contrary to clinical evidence, MAN was not immunosuppressive in this model, and in fact, the immunosuppressive potential of GP, which is composed largely of MAN, was found to be dependent upon the presence of its heat-labile protein moiety.
In addition to cytokines, CD4+ T cells have been found to secrete soluble, T-cell-derived antigen binding molecules (TABMs). These antigen-specific immunoproteins are thought to have immunoregulatory properties in the suppression of cell-mediated immunity (CMI) because they often associate with interleukin-10 (IL-10) and transforming growth factor beta. Decreased CMI causes susceptibility to infections caused by organisms which are normally nonpathogenic. In this situation, e.g., Candida albicans saprophytism may develop into invasive candidiasis. The difficult diagnosis of invasive candidiasis is based on the findings obtained from blood cultures and with tissue biopsy specimens, with some additional diagnostic value gained by the detection of Candida albicans mannan antigenemia and antimannan antibodies. In the present study, Candida albicans mannan-specific TABM (CAM-TABM) levels in the sera of patients with invasive candidiasis (n = 11), Candida colonization (n = 11) and noncolonization (n = 10), recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (n = 30), and atopic eczema dermatitis syndrome (n = 59) and healthy controls (n = 30) were analyzed. For 14 participants, the effect of mannan stimulation on TABM production and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and IL-4 mRNA expression by peripheral blood lymphocytes was also studied. It was demonstrated that CAM-TABM production was the highest in patients with invasive candidiasis and that CAM-TABM levels could distinguish Candida-colonized patients from noncolonized patients. In addition, the CAM-TABM level was directly related to mRNA expression for IL-4 but not IFN-γ. These results reinforce the view that TABMs are associated with decreased CMI, immunoregulation, and the T-helper cell 2-type immune response.
Recent investigations on the antifungal properties of essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia Cheel (Tea Tree Oil, TTO) have been performed with reference to the treatment of vaginal candidiasis. However, there is a lack of in vivo data supporting in vitro results, especially regarding the antifungal properties of TTO constituents. Thus, the aim of our study was to investigate the in vitro and the in vivo anti-Candida activity of two critical bioactive constituents of TTO, terpinen-4-ol and 1,8-cineole.
Oophorectomized, pseudoestrus rats under estrogen treatment were used for experimental vaginal infection with azole (fluconazole, itraconazole) -susceptible or -resistant strains of C. albicans. All these strains were preliminarily tested for in vitro susceptibility to TTO, terpinen-4-ol and 1,8-cineole for their antifungal properties, using a modification of the CLSI (formerly NCCLS) reference M27-A2 broth micro-dilution method.
In vitro minimal inhibitory concentrations (MIC90) values were 0.06% (volume/volume) for terpinen-4-ol and 4% (volume/volume) for 1,8-cineole, regardless of susceptibility or resistance of the strains to fluconazole and itraconazole. Fungicidal concentrations of terpinen-4-ol were equivalent to the candidastatic activity. In the rat vaginal infection model, terpinen-4-ol was as active as TTO in accelerating clearance from the vagina of all Candida strains examined.
Our data suggest that terpinen-4-ol is a likely mediator of the in vitro and in vivo activity of TTO. This is the first in vivo demonstration that terpinen-4-ol could control C. albicans vaginal infections. The purified compound holds promise for the treatment of vaginal candidiasis, and particularly the azole-resistant forms.
Recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC) is a prevalent opportunistic mucosal infection, caused predominantly by Candida albicans, which affects a significant number of otherwise healthy women of childbearing age. Since there are no known exogenous predisposing factors to explain the incidence of symptomatic vaginitis in most women with idiopathic RVVC, it has been postulated that these particular women suffer from an immunological abnormality that prediposes them to RVVC. Because of the increased incidence of mucosal candidiasis in individuals with depressed cell-mediated immunity (CMI), defects in CMI are viewed as a possible explanation for RVVC. In this review, we attempt to place into perspective the accumulated information regarding the immunopathogenesis of RVVC, as well as to provide new immunological perspectives and hypotheses regarding potential immunological deficiencies that may predispose to RVVC and potentially other mucosal infections by the same organism. The results of both clinical studies and studies in an animal model of experimental vaginitis suggest that systemic CMI may not be the predominant host defense mechanism against C. albicans vaginal infections. Rather, locally acquired mucosal immunity, distinct from that in the peripheral circulation, is now under consideration as an important host defense at the vaginal mucosa, as well as the notion that changes in local CMI mechanism(s) may predispose to RVVC.
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.
The 70-kDa recombinant Candida albicans heat shock protein (CaHsp70) and its 21-kDa C-terminal and 28-kDa N-terminal fragments (CaHsp70-Cter and CaHsp70-Nter, respectively) were studied for their immunogenicity, including proinflammatory cytokine induction in vitro and in vivo, and protection in a murine model of hematogenous candidiasis. The whole protein and its two fragments were strong inducers of both antibody (Ab; immunoglobulin G1 [IgG1] and IgG2b were the prevalent isotypes) and cell-mediated immunity (CMI) responses in mice. CaHsp70 preparations were also recognized as CMI targets by peripheral blood mononuclear cells of healthy human subjects. Inoculation of CaHsp70 preparations into immunized mice induced rapid production of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha, peaking at 2 to 5 h and declining within 24 h. CaHsp70 and CaHsp70-Cter also induced gamma interferon (IFN-γ), IL-12, and IL-10 but not IL-4 production by CD4+ lymphocytes cocultured with splenic accessory cells from nonimmunized mice. In particular, the production of IFN-γ was equal if not superior to that induced in the same cells by whole, heat-inactivated fungal cells or the mitogenic lectin concanavalin A. In immunized mice, however, IL-4 but not IL-12 was produced in addition to IFN-γ upon in vitro stimulation of CD4+ cells with CaHsp70 and CaHsp70-Cter. These animals showed a decreased median survival time compared to nonimmunized mice, and their mortality was strictly associated with organ invasion by fungal hyphae. Their enhanced susceptibility was attributable to the immunization state, as it did not occur in congenitally athymic nude mice, which were unable to raise either Ab or CMI responses to CaHsp70 preparations. Together, our data demonstrate the elevated immunogenicity of CaHsp70, with which, however, no protection against but rather some enhancement of Candida infection seemed to occur in the mouse model used.
Toll-like receptors (TLR) are crucial for an efficient antifungal defense. We investigated the differential recognition of blastoconidia and hyphae of Candida albicans by TLRs. In contrast to Candida blastoconidia, which stimulated large amounts of gamma interferon (IFN-γ), the tissue-invasive Candida hyphae did not stimulate any IFN-γ by human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) or murine splenic lymphocytes. After stimulation with blastoconidia, the production of IFN-γ was TLR4 dependent, as shown by the significantly decreased IFN-γ production in anti-TLR4-treated PBMC and in splenic lymphocytes from TLR4-defective ScCr mice. In addition, peritoneal macrophages from ScCr mice produced less tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) than macrophages of control mice did when stimulated with Candida blastoconidia, but not with hyphae, indicating that TLR4-mediated signals are lost during hyphal germination. In contrast, macrophages from TLR2 knockout mice had a decreased production of TNF-α in response to both Candida blastoconidia and hyphae. Candida hyphae stimulated production of interleukin-10 through TLR2-dependent mechanisms. In conclusion, TLR4 mediates proinflammatory cytokine induction after Candida stimulation, whereas Candida recognition by TLR2 leads mainly to anti-inflammatory cytokine release. TLR4-mediated proinflammatory signals are lost during germination of Candida blastoconidia into hyphae. Phenotypic switching during germination may be an important escape mechanism of C. albicans, resulting in counteracting host defense.
Cell-mediated immune (CMI) responses and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) have been shown to be essential in acquired protection against Cryptococcus neoformans. Induction of a protective anticryptococcal CMI response includes increases in dendritic cells (DC) and activated CD4+ T cells in draining lymph nodes (DLN). During the expression phase, activated CD4+ T cells accumulate at a peripheral site where cryptococcal antigen is injected, resulting in a classical delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) reaction. Induction of a nonprotective anticryptococcal CMI response results in no significant increases in the numbers of DC or activated CD4+ T cells in DLN. This study focuses on examining the role of TNF-α in induction of protective and nonprotective anticryptococcal CMI responses. We found that neutralization of TNF-α at the time of immunization with the protective immunogen (i) reduces the numbers of Langerhans cells, myeloid and lymphoid DC, and activated CD4+ T cells in DLN and (ii) diminishes the total numbers of cells, the numbers of activated CD4+ T cells, and amount of gamma interferon at the DTH reaction site. Although TNF-α neutralization during induction of the nonprotective CMI response had little effect on cellular and cytokine parameters measured, it did cause a reduction in footpad swelling when mice received challenge in the footpad. Our findings show that TNF-α functions during induction of the protective CMI response by influencing the accumulation of all three DC subsets into DLN. Without antigen stimulated DC in DLN, activated CD4+ T cells are not induced and thus not available for the expression phase of the CMI response.
Increased levels of estrogen and diabetes mellitus separately predispose to vaginal candidiasis (VC). However, the compounding effect of estrogen on the severity and persistence of VC in diabetic females is not clear.
To address this issue, a diabetic mouse model with estrogen-maintained VC was developed and evaluated for vaginal fungal burden (VFB) and immune competence at different time points throughout the study period.
Blood glucose levels in estrogen-treated diabetic mice were consistently lower than that in untreated counterparts. Estrogen-treated C. albicans-infected non-diabetic mice experienced persistent episodes of VC as compared with naïve controls (P < 0.01). However, severity and persistence of VC in estrogen-treated C. albicans-infected diabetic mice was significantly greater than that in non-diabetic counterparts (P < 0.05). Mortality rates among estrogen-treated C. albicans-infected diabetic mice were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than that in non-diabetic counterparts. Statistically significant (P < 0.05) and persistent suppression of the delayed hypersensitivity response (DTH) was evident in estrogen-treated C. albicans-infected diabetic and non-diabetic mice as compared with controls. Levels of expression of the inhibitory molecule CD152 on vaginal and splenic T cells isolated from estrogen-treated C. albicans infected mice was significantly higher than that in naive untreated controls (P < 0.01).
These findings suggest that estrogen treatment in diabetic females may protect against the progression of DM on the one hand and predispose to severe and persistent VC on the other. The later outcome could be related to the immunosuppressed status of the host.
Candida albicans; CD152; Diabetes mellitus; Estrogen; Immunosuppression; Vaginal candidiasis
Cryptococcosis, an increasingly important opportunistic infection caused by the encapsulated yeast-like organism Cryptococcus neoformans, is limited by an anticryptococcal cell-mediated immune (CMI) response. Gaining a thorough understanding of the complex anticryptococcal CMI response is essential for developing means of controlling infections with C. neoformans. The murine cryptococcosis model utilizing footpad swelling to cryptococcal antigen (delayed-type hypersensitivity [DTH]) has proven to be a valuable tool for studying the induction and regulation of the anticryptococcal CMI response, but this technique has limitations with regard to evaluating the role of the final effector cells recruited by an ongoing CMI response. The purpose of this study was to assess the types of cells and cytokines induced into the site of cryptococcal antigen deposition in C. neoformans-infected and -immunized mice compared with those for control mice. We used a gelatin sponge implant model to examine the cells and cytokines present at the site of an anticryptococcal DTH response. Sponges implanted in infected mice and injected with cryptococcal culture filtrate antigen (CneF) 24 h before assessment had significantly increased numbers of infiltrating leukocytes compared with saline-injected sponges in the same animals. Exaggerated influxes of neutrophils and mononuclear cells were the major contributors to the increase in total numbers of cells in the DTH-reactive sponges. The numbers of CD4+ and LFA-1+ cells were found to be significantly increased in the CneF-injected sponges of infected and immunized mice over the numbers in control sponges. The numbers of large granular lymphocytes were also increased in DTH-reactive sponges compared with control sponges. Gamma interferon, interleukin 2 (IL-2), and IL-5 are clearly relevant cytokines in the anticryptococcal CMI response, since they were produced in greater amounts in the CneF-injected sponges from C. neoformans-infected and -immunized mice than in control sponges. IL-4 was not associated with the expression of DTH to cryptococcal antigen. The gelatin sponge model is an excellent tool for studying cells and cytokines involved in specific CMI responses.