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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2008

Adherence of clinically isolated lactobacilli to human cervical cells in competition with Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Vielfort, Katarina; Sjolinder, Hong; Roos, Stefan; Jonsson, Hans; Aro, Helena


Lactobacilli are normal inhabitants of our microbiota and are known to protect against pathogens. Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a human specific pathogenic bacterium that colonises the urogenital tract where it causes gonorrhoea. In this study we analysed early interactions between lactobacilli and gonococci and investigated how they compete for adherence to human epithelial cervical cells. We show that lactobacilli adhere at various levels and that the number of adherent bacteria does not correlate to the level of protection against gonococcal infection. Protection against gonococcal adhesion varied between Lactobacillus species. Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus reuteri were capable of reducing gonococcal adherence while Lactobacillus rhamnosus was not. Lactobacillus strains of vaginal origin had the best capacity to remain attached to the host cell during gonococcal adherence. Further, we show that gonococci and lactobacilli interact with each other with resultant lactobacilli incorporation into the gonococcal microcolony. Hence, gonococci bind to colonised lactobacilli and this complex frequently detaches from the epithelial cell surface, resulting in reduced bacterial colonisation. Also, purified gonococcal pili are capable of removing adherent lactobacilli from the cell surface. Taken together, we reveal novel data regarding gonococcal and lactobacilli competition for adherence that will benefit future gonococcal prevention and treatments. (C) 2008 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.


Neisseria gonorrhoeae; Lactobacilli; Adherence; Pili

Published in

Microbes and Infection
2008, volume: 10, number: 12-13, pages: 1325-1334

Authors' information

Vielfort, Katarina
Uppsala University
Sjölinder, Hong
Uppsala University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Microbiology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Microbiology
Aro, Helena
Uppsala University

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