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.