Association of a variable number tandem repeat in the NLRP3 gene in women with susceptibility to RVVC

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2016 May;35(5):797-801. doi: 10.1007/s10096-016-2600-5. Epub 2016 Mar 7.


Vaginal infections with Candida spp. frequently occur in women of childbearing age. A small proportion of these women experience recurrent vulvovaginal candidosis (RVVC), which is characterized by at least three episodes of infection in one year. In addition to known risk factors such as antibiotics, diabetes, or pregnancy, host genetic variation and inflammatory pathways such as the IL-1/Th17 axis have been reported to play a substantial role in the pathogenesis of RVVC. In this study, we assessed a variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) polymorphism in the NLRP3 gene that encodes a component of the inflammasome, processing the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-18. A total of 270 RVVC patients and 583 healthy controls were analyzed, and increased diseases susceptibility was associated with the presence of the 12/9 genotype. Furthermore, functional studies demonstrate that IL-1β production at the vaginal surface is higher in RVVC patients bearing the 12/9 genotype compared to controls, whereas IL-1Ra levels were decreased and IL-18 levels remained unchanged. These findings suggest that IL-1β-mediated hyperinflammation conveyed by the NLRP3 gene plays a causal role in the pathogenesis of RVVC and may identify this pathway as a potential therapeutic target in the disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / genetics*
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / metabolism
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / microbiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Introns
  • Minisatellite Repeats*
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein / genetics*


  • Cytokines
  • NLR Family, Pyrin Domain-Containing 3 Protein