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Infect Immun. 2008 Jul;76(7):3124-30. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00101-08. Epub 2008 Apr 14.

Inhibition of Neisseria gonorrhoeae epithelial cell interactions by vaginal Lactobacillus species.

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  • 1Genetics Program, Center for Microbial Pathogenesis, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA.

Erratum in

  • Infect Immun. 2012 Oct;80(10):3742.


High levels of Lactobacillus, the dominant genus of the healthy human vaginal microbiota, have been epidemiologically linked to a reduced risk of infection following exposure to the sexually transmitted pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae. In this work, a cell culture model of gonococcal infection was adapted to examine the effects of lactobacilli on gonococcal interactions with endometrial epithelial cells in vitro. Precolonization of epithelial cells with Lactobacillus jensenii, Lactobacillus gasseri ATCC 33323, or L. gasseri ATCC 9857 reduced gonococcal adherence by nearly 50%. Lactobacilli also inhibited gonococcal invasion of epithelial cells by more than 60%, which was independent of the effect on adherence. Furthermore, lactobacilli were able to displace adherent gonococci from epithelial cells, suggesting that these organisms have potential as a postexposure prophylactic. Thus, vaginal lactobacilli have the ability to inhibit gonococci at two key steps of an infection, which might have a significant effect in determining whether the gonococcus will be able to successfully establish an infection following exposure in vivo.

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