Microbial compounds induce the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and human β-defensin-2 in vaginal epithelial cells

Andor Pivarcsi, Istvan Nagy, Andrea Koreck, Kornelia Kis, Anna Kenderessy-Szabo, Marta Szell, Attila Dobozy, Lajos Kemeny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

108 Citations (Scopus)


Vaginal epithelium has a powerful innate immune system that protects the female reproductive organs from bacterial and fungal infections. In the present study, we aimed to explore whether the Toll-like receptor (TLR) signaling pathway and the induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines and antimicrobial peptides could contribute to the protection against pathogenic microorganisms in vaginal epithelia, using an immortalized vaginal epithelial cell line PK E6/E7 as a model. We found that TLR2 and TLR4 receptors are expressed in vivo in the vaginal epithelia and in vitro in PK E6/E7 vaginal epithelial cell line. The Gram-negative cell wall compound lipopolysaccharide (LPS), the Gram-positive compound peptidoglycan (PGN), heat-killed Candida albicans and zymosan significantly (P < 0.05) induced the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines such as TNF-α and IL-8/CXCL8 in vaginal epithelial cells. Furthermore, the expression and production of human β-defensin-2 (hBD2), an antimicrobial peptide with chemotactic functions, was also up-regulated in PK E6/E7 cells after treatment with LPS, PGN or C. albicans. Treatment of vaginal epithelial cells with microbial compounds induced the activation and nuclear translocation of NF-κB transcription factor, a key element of innate and adaptive immune responses. In our work, we provide evidence that microbial compounds induce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and antimicrobial peptides in vaginal epithelial cells. In vivo, vaginal epithelial cell-derived inflammatory mediators and antimicrobial peptides may play important roles in vaginal immune responses and in the elimination of pathogens from the female reproductive tract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1117-1127
Number of pages11
JournalMicrobes and Infection
Issue number9-10
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2005


  • Antimicrobial peptides
  • Female reproductive tract
  • Fungal infections
  • Innate immunity
  • Toll-like receptors (TLRs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases

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