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Am J Reprod Immunol. 2012 Mar;67(3):198-205. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0897.2011.01093.x. Epub 2011 Dec 8.

Identification of immune cells by flow cytometry in vaginal lavages from women with vulvovaginitis and normal microflora.

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Departamento de Tocoginecologia, Campinas University, Campinas, Brazil.



  The extent of the vaginal immune response is not fully determined. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the vaginal immune cells from women with vulvovaginitis (VV).


A total of 142 volunteers diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis (BV), vulvovaginal candidiasis (VC), and BV associated with VC or normal microflora were sampled to evaluate the immune cells by flow cytometry. The immune cells were obtained by vaginal lavage and labeled with fluorochrome-conjugated monoclonal antibodies to identify neutrophil granulocytes, macrophages, CD4(+) and CD8(+) T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, and NK lymphocytes.


Neutrophil granulocytes were present in 84.6% of samples among the leukocyte populations. Considering samples in which neutrophils were present, the mean percentage of neutrophil granulocytes was significantly higher in women with VC than BV and normal microflora and was significantly lower in women with BV than normal microflora. Macrophages and lymphocytes were present in a lower percentage of samples. The mean percentage of CD4(+) T lymphocytes in vaginal lavages was significantly higher in VC and BV compared with women with normal microflora.


Neutrophils were the predominant leukocytes and were associated with VC and inversely with BV. CD4(+) T lymphocytes were associated with both VC and BV.

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