Korean J Parasitol.  2006 Jun;44(2):101-116. 10.3347/kjp.2006.44.2.101.

Trichomonas vaginalis and trichomoniasis in the Republic of Korea

  • 1Department of Parasitology, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Seoul 133-791, Korea. dymin@hanyang.ac.kr


Vaginal trichomoniasis, caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, is the most common sexually transmitted disease. More than 170 million people worldwide are annually infected by this protozoan. In the Republic of Korea, 10.4% of women complaining of vaginal symptoms and signs were found to be infected with T. vaginalis. However, despite its high prevalence, the pathogenesis of T. vaginalis infection has not been clearly characterized although neutrophil infiltration is considered to be primarily responsible for the cytologic changes associated with this infection. We hypothesized that trichomonads in the vagina sometime after an acute infection secrete proteins like excretorysecretory product that have a chemotactic effect on neutrophils, and that these neutrophils are further stimulated by T. vaginalis to produce chemokines like IL-8 and GRO-alpha, which further promote neutrophil recruitment and chemotaxis. Thus, neutrophil accumulation is believed to maintain or aggravate inflammation. However, enhanced neutrophil apoptosis induced by live T. vaginalis could contribute to resolution of inflammation. Macrophages may constitute an important component of host defense against T. vaginalis infection. For example, mouse macrophages alone and those activated by lymphokines or nitric oxide are known to be involved in the extracellular killing of T. vaginalis. In the host, T. vaginalis uses a capping phenomenon to cleave host immunoglobulins with proteinases and thus escape from host immune responses. Recently, we developed a highly sensitive and specific diagnostic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique using primers based on a repetitive sequence cloned from T. vaginalis (TV-E650), and found that the method enables the detection of T. vaginalis at concentrations as low as 1 cell per PCR mixture.


Trichomonas vaginalis; trichomoniasis; pathogenesis; PCR; neutrophil; macrophage

MeSH Terms

Trichomonas vaginalis/cytology/*isolation & purification/pathogenicity
Trichomonas Vaginitis/drug therapy/*epidemiology/parasitology
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