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PLoS One. 2014 Sep 12;9(9):e107758. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107758. eCollection 2014.

Lactobacilli inactivate Chlamydia trachomatis through lactic acid but not H2O2.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacology, Rutgers University Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, New Jersey, United States of America; Department of Immunology, Central South University Xiangya Medical School, Changsha, Hunan, China.
2
Department of Pharmacology, Rutgers University Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, New Jersey, United States of America.
3
Department of Immunology, Central South University Xiangya Medical School, Changsha, Hunan, China.

Abstract

Lactobacillus species dominate the microbiome in the lower genital tract of most reproductive-age women. Producing lactic acid and H2O2, lactobacilli are believed to play an important role in prevention of colonization by and growth of pathogens. However, to date, there have been no reported studies characterizing how lactobacilli interact with Chlamydia trachomatis, a leading sexually transmitted bacterium. In this report, we demonstrate inactivation of C. trachomatis infectivity by culture media conditioned by Lactobacillus crispatus, L. gasseri and L. jensenii, known to be dominating organisms in the human vaginal microbiome. Lactobacillus still cultures produced lactic acid, leading to time- and concentration-dependent killing of C. trachomatis. Neutralization of the acidic media completely reversed chlamydia killing. Addition of lactic acid into Lactobacillus-unconditioned growth medium recapitulated the chlamydiacidal activity of conditioned media. The H2O2 concentrations in the still cultures were found to be comparable to those reported for the cervicovaginal fluid, but insufficient to inactivate chlamydiae. Aeration of Lactobacillus cultures by shaking markedly induced H2O2 production, but strongly inhibited Lactobacillus growth and lactic acid production, and thus severely affected acidification, leading to significantly reduced chlamydiacidal efficiency. These observations indicate lactobacilli inactivate chlamydiae primarily through maintaining acidity in a relatively hypoxic environment in the vaginal lumen with limited H2O2, which is consistent with the notion that women with higher vaginal pH are more prone to sexually transmitted C. trachomatis infection. In addition to lactic acid, formic acid and acetic acid also exhibited potent chlamydiacidal activities. Taken together, our findings imply that lowering the vaginal pH through engineering of the vaginal microbiome and other means will make women less susceptible to C. trachomatis infection.

PMID:
25215504
PMCID:
PMC4162611
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0107758
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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