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J Clin Microbiol. 1987 Jul;25(7):1275-9.

Cell culture compared with broth for detection of Trichomonas vaginalis.


Trichomonas vaginalis can be grown in cell culture. We studied the growth kinetics of T. vaginalis in McCoy cell culture compared with that in a conventional broth medium (Diamond TYI-S-33 medium supplemented with 10% heat-inactivated bovine serum [TYI]). In the presence of McCoy cells and two parts cell culture medium to one part TYI, a peak concentration of 2 X 10(6) to 6 X 10(6) T. vaginalis per ml was consistently achieved with inocula as low as three T. vaginalis cells per ml. Without cells, this medium did not support growth of T. vaginalis. T. vaginalis in TYI in 1-ml vials with or without McCoy cells demonstrated poor growth. In tubes containing 10 ml of TYI, inocula grew to 2 X 10(6) to 6 X 10(6) T. vaginalis per ml, but at least 3 X 10(3) T. vaginalis per tube was required to initiate growth. Thus, in vitro, cell culture was more sensitive than TYI broth in detecting low numbers of T. vaginalis. In a subsequent clinical comparison of broth and cell culture for isolation of T. vaginalis from 188 vaginal specimens and 21 urethral specimens from men, the results were in agreement for 206 specimens (98.6%). There were no situations in which culture was negative and a saline preparation showed motile trichomonads. For women, using a positive culture as the indicator of true positivity, the sensitivity of detection of T. vaginalis was 83% with the Pappenheim stain and 77% with saline preparations. These studies show that cell culture can be used for isolation of T. vaginalis from clinical specimens; it gave results comparable to those of broth culture for the group of mainly symptomatic women. Further studies should be performed to determine its utility in clinical populations such as asymptomatic women and men with and without symptoms, in which T. vaginalis is more likely to be present in low numbers.

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