Oral administration of a probiotic mixture (PM; Respecta®) consisting of Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 (L1), Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14 (L2), and lactoferrin RCXTM results in colonization of these probiotics in the vagina of healthy women. Therefore, we examined whether vaginal colonization of the PM ingredients L1 and L2 could attenuate bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV was induced in mice via β-estradiol-3-benzoate-induced immunosuppression and intravaginal inoculation with Gardnerella vaginalis (GV). Inflammatory markers were analyzed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, immunoblotting, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, and flow cytometry. Oral or intravaginal administration of PM resulted in colonization of L1 and L2 in the vagina. Oral or intravaginal administration of L1, L2, or PM significantly inhibited GV-induced epithelial cell disruption, myeloperoxidase activity, NF-κB activation, and IL-1β and TNF-α expression (p < 0.05). Administration of these probiotics also inhibited IL-17 and RORγt expression but increased IL-10 and Foxp3 expression. Of these probiotics, L2 most effectively attenuated GV-induced BV, followed by L1 and PM. Oral administration was more effective against GV-induced BV than intravaginal administration. L1 and L2 also significantly inhibited the adherence of GV to HeLa cells (a human cervical cancer cell line) and GV growth in vitro. In addition, L1 and L2 inhibited lipopolysaccharide-induced NF-κB activation in macrophages and the differentiation of splenocytes into Th17 cells in vitro, but increased their differentiation into Treg cells. Our study suggests that L1, L2, and PM attenuated GV-induced vaginosis by regulating both vaginal and systemic innate and adaptive immune responses rather than direct competition or killing of GV in the vagina.
Keywords: Gardnerella vaginalis; Lactobacillus acidophilus; Lactobacillus rhamnosus; bacterial vaginosis.