Vaginal lactobacilli in adolescents: presence and relationship to local and systemic immunity, and to bacterial vaginosis

Sex Transm Dis. 2004 Jul;31(7):393-400. doi: 10.1097/01.olq.0000130454.83883.e9.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / immunology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Female
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / epidemiology*
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / etiology
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Indiana / epidemiology
  • Lactobacillus / immunology
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification*
  • Lactobacillus / pathogenicity
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology*
  • Vaginal Smears
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / epidemiology*
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / etiology
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / microbiology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Cytokines