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Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Volume 11, Issue 1, Pages 19-26

Leukocyte Esterase Activity in Vaginal Fluid of Pregnant and Non-Pregnant Women With Vaginitis/Vaginosis and in Controls

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Lund University Hospital, Lund SE 22185, Sweden
2Department of Clinical Chemistry, County Hospital, Halmstad, Sweden

Received 14 March 2002; Accepted 10 September 2002

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objectives: To determine the leukocyte esterase (LE) activity in vaginal lavage fluid of women with acute and recurrent vulvovaginal candidosis (VVC and RVVC respectively), bacterial vaginosis (BV), and in pregnant and non-pregnant women without evidence of the three conditions. Also to compare the result of LE tests in women consulting at different weeks in the cycle and trimesters of pregnancy.The LE activity was correlated to vaginal pH, number of inflammatory cells in stained vaginal smears, type of predominating vaginal bacteria and presence of yeast morphotypes.

Methods: One hundred and thirteen women with a history of RVVC, i.e. with at least four attacks of the condition during the previous year and who had consulted with an assumed new attack of the condition, were studied. Furthermore, we studied 16 women with VVC, 15 women with BV, and 27 women attending for control of cytological abnormalities, who all presented without evidence of either vaginitis or vaginosis. Finally, 73 pregnant women were investigated. The LE activity in vaginal fluid during different weeks in the cycle of 53 of the women was measured.

Results: In the non-pregnant women, an increased LE activity was found in 96, 88, 73 and 56% of those with RVVC, VVC and BV and in the non-VVC/BV cases, respectively. In 73% of pregnant women in the second trimester, and 76% of those in the third, the LE test was positive. In all groups of non-pregnant women tested, the LE activity correlated with the number of leukocytes in vaginal smears, but it did not in those who were pregnant. There was no correlation between LE activity and week in cycle. The vaginal pH showed no correlation to LE activity in any of the groups studied.

Conclusions: The use of commercial LE dipsticks has a limited value in the differential diagnosis of RVVC, VVCand BV. There is no correlation between the LE activity in vaginal secretion on one hand and vaginal pH, week in the menstrual cycle and trimester in pregnancy on the other. Women with BV often have signs of inflammation as evidenced by a positive LE test and inflammatory cells in genital smears.