Mycoplasma hominis and Trichomonas vaginalis: a unique case of symbiotic relationship between two obligate human parasites

Front Biosci. 2006 Sep 1;11:2028-34. doi: 10.2741/1944.


Mollicutes are the smallest and simplest self-replicating microorganisms. Despite the minimal genome and apparent lack of complexity, mycoplasmas show a high degree of adaptation to the most diverse environments. Mycoplasma hominis is a human sexually transmitted mycoplasma which is able to establish a biological association with Trichomonas vaginalis, a pathogenic flagellated protist. M. hominis and T. vaginalis share the same specific natural niche, the human genitourinary tract. Symbiotic relationships between unicellular eukaryotes and bacteria are well known and have been extensively studied, providing interesting insights into the biology of one or both the symbionts. The relationship between T. vaginalis and M. hominis is unique in that it was the first described association of two obligated human parasites. Several aspects of this relationship have been investigated, showing how the trichomonad may be viewed not only as a new niche for M. hominis, but also as a "Trojan horse" for the transmission of the bacterial infection to the human host.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mycoplasma Infections / complications
  • Mycoplasma Infections / transmission
  • Mycoplasma hominis / pathogenicity
  • Mycoplasma hominis / physiology*
  • Symbiosis
  • Trichomonas Vaginitis / complications
  • Trichomonas Vaginitis / microbiology
  • Trichomonas Vaginitis / transmission
  • Trichomonas vaginalis / microbiology*
  • Trichomonas vaginalis / physiology