Caister Academic Press

Lactobacillus in the Vagina: Why, How, Which Ones and What Do They Do?

Gregor Reid
from: Lactobacillus Molecular Biology: From Genomics to Probiotics (Edited by: Åsa Ljungh and Torkel Wadström). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2009)


Of the 50 know species of Lactobacillus, at most 20 are able to colonize the intestine, and L. iners and L. crispatus appear to be the most commonly isolated in women in various countries around the globe. This consistency of isolation is all the more intriguing given the disparity of societal cultures and diet. For the most part, the origin of the lactobacilli is the woman's own intestinal microbiota, with passive transfer occurring along the skin from the anus to the perineum, vulva and vagina. The microbiota is disrupted by hormone levels, douching, sexual practices, the types of organisms ascending from the anus, and other factors such as alterations in innate immunity. The exogenous administration of certain strains of lactobacilli (probiotics) has been shown to reduce the risk of infection and help eradicate bacterial vaginosis. The mechanisms of action of the most documented probiotic containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14, appear to consist of physico-chemical displacement ability, as well as anti-infective compounds released from the cells, and immune-modulatory factors. Further development of these and other strains will lead to new approaches to help women retain and regain their vaginal health, and reduce their risk of various problematic, and in some cases, life threatening, conditions read more ...
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