Background: Female infertility can be caused by scarring and occlusion of the Fallopian tubes. Sexually transmitted bacteria can damage the delicate epithelial layer of human Fallopian tubes (HFT). Genital mycoplasmas are associated with human reproductive failure. Yet, there is not enough evidence that mycoplasmas can cause tubal factor infertility. We analysed the effects of infections with Mycoplasma hominis and Mycoplasma genitalium on the HFT epithelium and compared them with the effects of infections with genital pathogens: Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
Methods: We used an in vitro model in which pieces of normal HFT were infected with different bacteria, and the outcome of the infections was analysed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and confocal microscopy.
Results: The presence of M. hominis did not cause any morphological changes of the epithelium of HFT. Noticeable changes in the morphology of the ciliated cells were observed in M. genitalium-infected tissue. Five days post-infection, the cilia were abnormally swollen and some of the ciliated cells fell off the epithelium. These effects could be inhibited by pre-incubation of M. genitalium with antibody directed against the C-terminal part of the adhesion protein MgPa before infection of HFT organ culture.
Conclusion: We have shown that the presence of M. genitalium, but not M. hominis, in the HFT organ culture affected the epithelium and resulted in cilia damage. The effect of infection with M. genitalium on the HFT was, however, very moderate when compared with the extensive damage of the epithelium caused by N. gonorrhoeae or C. trachomatis.