How Does The Vagina Protect Itself From Chlamydia?

Resilience against chlamydia, the most widespread sexually transmitted infection (STI) in America, is dependant upon the properties of the microbes present in the vagina and cervix. A study published recently by mBio has tried to understand the underlying mechanism behind this protective function with more clarity.

The need to study the role, composition and interaction of the vaginal microbiomes comes from its prevalence in the American population. In 2017, 1.7 million cases were diagnosed and reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nearly half of which were diagnosed among females between ages 15 to 24. 

Bacteria Changes Epithelial Cells Lining

Old research had indicated that microbiomes with an abundance of Lactobacillus bacteria species prevents chlamydia. However, according to the new research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, the aforementioned breed of bacteria does not help fight the infection with its mere presence.

As reported by Medical News Today, the discovery was that the resilience to the infection only stems from the changes the bacteria induced to the epithelial cells lining the vagina and cervix. 

D-Lactic Acid Produced by Lactobacillus Crispatus More Effective in Preventing Chlamydia 

According to the previous research, the composition of the four healthy types of vaginal microbes is influenced by Lactobacillus species.  The fifth kind lacks Lactobacillus varieties and has been connected to increasing risk of STIs. They examined which bacteria of the species was more protective. 

The researchers at University of Maryland School of Medicine compared Lactobacillus in the vaginal samples of women infected with chlamydia with cultures made of Lactobacillus, including the bacteria on linings of the vagina and cervix. This revealed that Lactobacillus Crispatus, another bacteria living inside the vaginal area, was more combative than Lactobacillus Iners in preventing chlamydial infection. 

The two types of lactic acid generated by Lactobacillus microbe species are categorized as L form and D form. Lactobacillus Iners generate L-lactic acid mostly, while Lactobacillus Crispatus generates more D-lactic acid.The researchers found that D-lactic acid was more successful in fighting chlamydial infection caused by chlamydia trachomatis bacteria entering human cells. 

What Is Chlamydia?

The infection is caused via sexual intercourse, hence practicing safe sex and some amount of abstinence is important. It is generally curable and can be treated with antibiotics. The symptoms include pain in the lower abdominal region or vagina, pain during sexual intercourse, pain or burning during urination, milky discharge from penis, yellowish and smelly discharge from vagina, eye pain, redness, itchiness or eye discharge and vaginal bleeding between periods.

The infection is hard to identify, hence a lot of people suffer without knowing and do not even realize it. In women, untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, premature birth and can affect the newborn's eyes, leading to blindness and even pneumonia. For men it can lead to urethritis and epididymitis. 

Chlamydia By acquiring genetic mutations, Chlamydia trachomatis, which causes the sexually transmitted infection, can transform into a strain causing blindness. Kat Masback, CC by 2.0