Exposure of monolayer cultures of human urogenital and vaginal (HeLa), human epithelial (HEp-2), normal baboon testicular (NBT), and monkey kidney (Vero) cells to live pathogenic Trichomonas vaginalis resulted in extensive disruption of monolayers. Trypan blue was taken up by all host cells released from cell monolayers, which indicated irreversible damage of these cell types by trichomonads. Time and dose related data on cytotoxicity kinetics were obtained using increasing ratios of parasites to cells. All cell types were most sensitive to trichomonads at a multiplicity of infection of one. Release of tritiated thymidine (3H-thymidine) of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of prelabelled host cells after incubation with T vaginalis corroborated that extensive cytotoxicity was caused by pathogenic trichomonads in man. Only living parasites were cytotoxic, and no trichomonal toxic products were implicated in disruption of the cell monolayer cultures. A pathogenic bovine trichomonad, Tritrichomonas foetus KV-1, produced half as much cell damage as did T vaginalis. Trichomonas tenax, a non-pathogenic member of the normal flora of the oral cavity in man, produced no measurable cytotoxicity to HeLa cells when compared with the pathogenic human trichomonads.
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