Sexually Transmitted Diseases

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Vaginal Lactobacilli in Adolescents: Presence and Relationship to Local and Systemic Immunity, and to Bacterial Vaginosis

Alvarez-Olmos, Martha I. MD*†; Barousse, Melissa M. BS†; Rajan, Latta MD‡; Van Der Pol, Barbara J. MS§; Fortenberry, Dennis MD§; Orr, Donald MD§; Fidel, Paul L. Jr. PhD†

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Abstract

Objective: The objective of this study was to survey middle adolescents for the presence of vaginal lactobacilli, lactobacilli-specific immune sensitization, and correlates of vaginal immunity with lactobacilli and bacterial vaginosis (BV).

Methods: A cohort of 89 female adolescents were evaluated for the presence of vaginal lactobacilli species, H2O2-producing species, and the prevalence of BV. Cytokines and antibodies in cervicovaginal lavages were detected and peripheral blood lymphocyte (PBL) responses to Lactobacillus crispatus were evaluated.

Results: The majority of lactobacillus species were H2O2-producing and predominated by Lactobacillus acidophilus. PBL responses to lactobacilli were detectable in 50% of the cohort. BV was present in 36% of adolescents and negatively correlated with the presence of vaginal lactobacilli. The majority of locally associated cytokines and antibodies were similar in those with or without BV or lactobacilli.

Conclusions: Adolescents harbor vaginal lactobacilli with relationships to BV along with lactobacilli-specific immune sensitization, but with few correlates of local immunity to lactobacilli or BV.

© Copyright 2004 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association

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