Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is a widespread vaginal infection primarily caused by Candida albicans. VVC affects up to 75% of women of childbearing age once in their life, and up to 9% of women in different populations experience more than three episodes per year, which is defined as recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC). RVVC results in diminished quality of life as well as increased associated healthcare costs. For a long time, VVC has been considered the outcome of inadequate host defenses against Candida colonization, as in the case of primary immunodeficiencies associated with persistent fungal infections and insufficient clearance. Intensive research in recent decades has led to a new hypothesis that points toward a local mucosal overreaction of the immune system rather than a defective host response to Candida colonization. This review provides an overview of the current understanding of the host immune response in VVC pathogenesis and suggests that a tightly regulated fungus-host-microbiota interplay might exert a protective role against recurrent Candida infections.
Keywords: Candida albicans; fungal infections; host immune response; immunity; recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis; vulvovaginal candidiasis.