Influence of probiotic vaginal lactobacilli on in vitro adhesion of urogenital pathogens to vaginal epithelial cells

Lett Appl Microbiol. 2006 Aug;43(2):174-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-765X.2006.01934.x.


Aims: Lactobacilli, the predominant micro-organisms of the vaginal microbiota, play a major role in the maintenance of a healthy urogenital tract by preventing the colonization of pathogenic bacteria. The aim of the present study was to assess the ability of four vaginal Lactobacillus strains, previously selected for their probiotic features, to block in vitro the adherence of three human urogenital pathogens to vaginal epithelial cells (VEC).

Methods and results: Three types of assays were performed in order to determine the inhibitory effect of lactobacilli on adhesion of urogenital pathogens to VEC: blockage by exclusion (lactobacilli and VEC followed by pathogens), competition (lactobacilli, VEC and pathogens together) and displacement (pathogens and VEC followed by the addition of lactobacilli). Bacterial adhesion to VEC was quantified by microscopy (x1000) after Gram's stain. All the strains were able to inhibit by exclusion and competition the adhesion of Staphylococcus aureus to VEC but none was able to decrease the attachment of Escherichia coli by neither of the mechanisms assayed. Only Lactobacillus acidophillus CRL 1259 and Lactobacillus paracasei CRL 1289 inhibited the attachment of Group B streptococci (GBS) to VEC by exclusion and competition respectively.

Conclusions: Lactobacillus of vaginal origin were able to inhibit the attachment of genitouropathogenic Staph. aureus and GBS to the vaginal epithelium.

Significance and impact of the study: The results support the probiotic potential of these Lactobacillus strains as anti-infective agents in the vagina and encourage further studies about their capacity to prevent and manage urogenital tract infections in females.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / pathogenicity*
  • Bacterial Adhesion*
  • Epithelial Cells / microbiology*
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity
  • Escherichia coli / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus / physiology*
  • Probiotics*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / pathogenicity
  • Staphylococcus aureus / physiology
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / pathogenicity
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / physiology
  • Urinary Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Vagina / cytology
  • Vagina / microbiology*