Nystatin enhances the immune response against Candida albicans and protects the ultrastructure of the vaginal epithelium in a rat model of vulvovaginal candidiasis.BMC Microbiol. 2018 10 25; 18(1):166.BM
Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is a common infectious disease of the lower genital tract. Nystatin, a polyene fungicidal antibiotic, is used as a topical antifungal agent for VVC treatment. The aim of the current study was to investigate the possible immunomodulatory effects of nystatin on the vaginal mucosal immune response during Candida albicans infection and examine its role in protection of vaginal epithelial cell (VEC) ultrastructure.
Following infection with C. albicans, IFN-γ and IL-17 levels in VECs were significantly elevated, while the presence of IgG was markedly decreased as compared to uninfected controls (P < 0.05). No significant differences in IL4 expression were observed. After treatment with nystatin, the level of IFN-γ, IL-17 and IgG was dramatically increased in comparison to the untreated group (P < 0.05). Transmission electron microscopy revealed that C. albicans invades the vaginal epithelium by both induced endocytosis and active penetration. Nystatin treatment protects the ultrastructure of the vaginal epithelium. Compared with the untreated C. albicans-infected group, Flameng scores which measure mitochondrial damage of VECs were markedly decreased (P < 0.001) and the number of adhesive and invasive C. albicans was significantly reduced (P < 0.01) after treatment with nystatin.
Nystatin plays a protective role in the host defense against C. albicans by up-regulating the IFN-γ-related cellular response, the IL-17 signaling pathway and possibly through enhancing VEC-derived IgG-mediated immunity. Furthermore, nystatin notably improves the ultramorphology of the vaginal mucosa, partially through the protection of mitochondria ultrastructure in VECs and inhibition of adhesion and invasion by C. albicans. Together, these effects enhance the immune response of the vaginal mucosa against C. albicans and protect the ultrastructure of vaginal epithelium in VVC rats.