Interaction of Candida albicans with genital mucosa: Effect of sex hormones on adherence of yeasts in vitro

A. Kalo, E. Segal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Findings from our previous studies revealed a correlation between the level of adherence in vitro of Candida albicans to human exfoliated vaginal epithelial cells (VEC) and the hormonal status of the cell donors. In the present study we investigated the effect of the sex hormones estradiol, estriol, progesterone, and testosterone on the binding of the yeasts to HeLa cell lines and VEC in vitro. Monolayers of HeLa cells were exposed to the hormones and yeasts under controlled conditions. The number of adherent yeasts per square millimetre of HeLa cell monolayers and the percentage of VEC with adherent yeasts was estimated by microscopic counts. The results showed that the tested sex hormones affected at various degrees the adhesion of yeasts to HeLa cells or VEC. Progesterone had the most marked effect, leading to a significant increase in the number of adherent yeasts to HeLa cells or in the percentage of adhesion of VEC. In addition, VEC were separated on Percoll gradients into the two cell types: superficial (S) and intermediate (I), cell types which appear physiologically under increased serum levels of estradiol or progesterone, respectively. Adhesion assays with the separated cell populations revealed an increased binding capacity of the I cells. The finding that progesterone increased the adherence of yeasts to genital mucosa and that VEC of the I type have a higher capacity to adhere the yeasts is compatible with our previous observation that increased numbers of I cells, appearing under high level of progesterone, are found in situations known to have predisposition to vaginal candidiasis. Thus, our data point to a possible involvement of the hormone progesterone in the adherence of C. albicans to genital epithelium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-228
Number of pages5
JournalCanadian Journal of Microbiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1988


Dive into the research topics of 'Interaction of Candida albicans with genital mucosa: Effect of sex hormones on adherence of yeasts in vitro'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this