Antagonistic Substances Produced by Vaginal Tract Bacteria with an Emphasis on the Pathogenesis of Bacterial Vaginosis
Brankiewicz, Carolyn A.
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Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a polymicrobial infection of the vaginal tract that results in a change in the normal vaginal microflora. The vagina, which is normally dominated by Lactobacillus species and other Gram positive genera in healthy women, shifts to a flora characterized by high concentrations of Gardnerella vaginalis and anaerobic species such as Prevotella spp., Peptostreptococcus spp., Mobiluncus spp. and genital mycoplasmas for women with BV. Understanding the complex interactions among the vaginal micro flora may lead to a greater understanding as to why the shift in microflora from lactobacilli to anaerobes occurs during BV. Microbe-microbe interactions can or may involve the production of antimicrobial compounds. Bacteria of the vaginal tract, especially lactobacilli, have been well-documented to produce various antimicrobial substances, including hydrogen peroxide (H202), lactic acid, and bacteriocitis. These have been shown to inhibit the growth of both endogenous and exogenous bacteria and may have a role in both the maintenance of the healthy vaginal environment and the pathogenesis of BV. A more complete understanding of the role these substances play in microbial interactions in the vaginal ecosystem may lead to a novel, ecologically-based treatment for BV. Application of this knowledge into treatment strategies for BV is being actively explored in the field of probiotics.