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Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Diseases
Volume 2008 (2008), Article ID 256490, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2008/256490
Review Article

Vaginal Microbiota and the Use of Probiotics

1Canadian Research and Development Centre for Probiotics, Lawson Health Research Institute, 268 Grosvenor Street, London, ON, Canada N6A 4V2
2Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada N6A 4V2

Received 10 July 2008; Revised 31 October 2008; Accepted 18 November 2008

Academic Editor: Robert A. Britton

Copyright © 2008 Sarah Cribby et al. 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.

Abstract

The human vagina is inhabited by a range of microbes from a pool of over 50 species. Lactobacilli are the most common, particularly in healthy women. The microbiota can change composition rapidly, for reasons that are not fully clear. This can lead to infection or to a state in which organisms with pathogenic potential coexist with other commensals. The most common urogenital infection in premenopausal women is bacterial vaginosis (BV), a condition characterized by a depletion of lactobacilli population and the presence of Gram-negative anaerobes, or in some cases Gram-positive cocci, and aerobic pathogens. Treatment of BV traditionally involves the antibiotics metronidazole or clindamycin, however, the recurrence rate remains high, and this treatment is not designed to restore the lactobacilli. In vitro studies have shown that Lactobacillus strains can disrupt BV and yeast biofilms and inhibit the growth of urogenital pathogens. The use of probiotics to populate the vagina and prevent or treat infection has been considered for some time, but only quite recently have data emerged to show efficacy, including supplementation of antimicrobial treatment to improve cure rates and prevent recurrences.