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Microbiology. 2018 Mar;164(3):349-358. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.000608. Epub 2018 Jan 23.

Anti-inflammatory effect of two Lactobacillus strains during infection with Gardnerella vaginalis and Candida albicans in a HeLa cell culture model.

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Departamento de Microbiologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.
Centro Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuária, Dirección de Producciones Biofarmacêuticas, San José de las Lajas, Mayabeque, Cuba.
Departamento de Morfologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.


Lactobacilli are the dominant bacteria of the vaginal tract of healthy women and they play a major role in the maintenance of mucosal homeostasis, preventing genital infections, such as bacterial vaginosis (BV) and vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). It is now known that one mechanism of this protection is the influence that lactobacilli can exert on host immune responses. In this context, we evaluated two Lactobacillus strains (L. plantarum 59 and L. fermentum 137) for their immunomodulatory properties in response to Gardnerella vaginalis (BV) or Candida albicans (VVC) infections in a HeLa cell infection model. G. vaginalis and C. albicans triggered the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-8) and the activation of NF-κB in HeLa cells, in contrast to L. plantarum 59 and L. fermentum 137. Treatments with the Lactobacillus strains or their cell-free supernatants before (pre-treatment) or after (post-treatment) the challenge with the pathogens resulted in decreased secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines and decreased activation of NF-κB. The treatments with Lactobacillus strains not only decreased the secretion of IL-8, but also its expression, as confirmed by gene reporter luciferase assay, suggesting transcription-level control by lactobacilli. In conclusion, L. plantarum 59 and L. fermentum 137 were confirmed to have an anti-inflammatory effect against G. vaginalis and C. albicans and they were able to influence signalling in NF-κB pathway, making them interesting candidates as probiotics for the prevention or treatment of BV and VVC.


Candida albicans; Gardnerella vaginalis; HeLa cells; Lactobacillus spp.; pro-inflammatory cytokines; vaginal probiotics

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