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Int Rev Immunol. 2002 Nov-Dec;21(6):515-48.

The protective immune response against vaginal candidiasis: lessons learned from clinical studies and animal models.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Parasitology, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112, USA.


Recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC) is a significant problem in women of childbearing ages and is caused by Candida albicans, a commensal organism of the intestinal and reproductive tracts. As a result of this commensalism, most healthy individuals have demonstrable Candida-specific adaptive immunity that is considered protective. In women with RVVC, a deficiency/dysfunction of this protective immunity is postulated to affect susceptibility to infection. Although cell-mediated immunity (CMI) is considered important for protection against mucosal candidal infections, little is understood about specific host defenses that are important at the vaginal mucosa. Studies to date suggest that a compartmentalized local, rather than systemic, immunity is important for defense against vaginitis. This review will summarize the current state of knowledge regarding protective host defense mechanisms against vaginal C. albicans infections both from clinical studies and animal models. From these data, hypotheses are presented for what host defense mechanisms appear important for resistance/susceptibility to vaginal infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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