Purpose: In the vagina of healthy reproductive-aged women, several microbial species maintain a finely tuned mutualistic relationship with the host providing the first-line of defense against the colonization by opportunistic pathogens, which are the leading cause of dysbiosis or vaginal infections (bacterial vaginosis, vulvovaginal candidiasis, and aerobic vaginitis). The use of probiotic lactobacilli to prevent vaginal infections has a good rationale, and an excellent safety record, but so far only a few strains have been clinically proven to be effective, particularly to prevent BV. The aim of the clinical trial was to evaluate the changes in Nugent score in women with intermediate vaginal microbiota treated with oral Lactobacillus acidophilus GLA-14 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 mixture, in combination with bovine lactoferrin RCX™ (Respecta®) or placebo, for 15 days.
Methods: Vaginal swabs were collected from each woman at baseline and at the end of probiotic treatment and analyzed by RT-PCR. Both symptoms of abnormal vaginal micorbiota and adverse effects were assessed throughout the study.
Results: The results showed that oral intake of lactobacilli/lactoferrin mixture led to significant vaginal colonization by L. acidophilus GLA-14 and L. rhamnosus HN001 showing that both strains can colonize vagina following oral ingestion. The effect of such colonization is correlated with the restoration of normal Nugent score (values 0-3) and an improvement of symptoms of abnormal vaginal micorbiota including itching and discharge.
Conclusions: Oral consumption of lactobacilli/lactoferrin complex corroborates the effectiveness of using lactobacilli for supporting vaginal health and provides a rational basis for future studies on vaginal infections.
Keywords: Lactobacillus acidophilus; Lactobacillus rhamnosus; Lactoferrin; Nugent score; Respecta®.