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Antibodies to Trichomonas vaginalis surface glycolipid


Background Human trichomoniasis is the most common non-viral sexually transmitted disease, yet immune responses are not well studied.

Methods Since the Trichomonas vaginalis lipophosphoglycan (TvLPG) is an important virulence factor, a bank of eight monoclonal antibodies was generated to define the antigen in clinical isolates. The TvLPG-specific antibody response of women who were culture positive (n=33) or negative (n=33) for T vaginalis infection was determined by isotype-specific ELISA.

Results The bank of monoclonal antibodies reacted with conserved surface TvLPG epitopes in 27 isolates from pregnant women at their first prenatal visit. Conserved TvLPG epitopes were shown to be surface exposed by immunofluorescence. Sera collected from the same patients at the same time were assayed for specific antibodies. Serum and vaginal secretions from 33 T vaginalis-positive women had statistically higher IgG anti-TvLPG levels than age-matched and race-matched negative controls in the same clinical study (p<0.01). Vaginal IgA anti-TvLPG levels of the women with trichomoniasis were almost significantly higher than controls (p=0.055). Infected women with normal pregnancies had significantly higher vaginal IgG anti-TvLPG values than infected women with adverse outcomes of pregnancy.

Conclusions These antibody responses show that infected women can respond to the conserved TvLPG antigen. Since antibodies to trichomonad surface LPG protect in a bovine model of trichomoniasis, the role of these antibodies in the human disease should be investigated.


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