Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis: a Dynamic Interkingdom Biofilm Disease of Candida and Lactobacillus

Emily Mckloud, Christopher Delaney, Leighann Sherry, Ryan Kean, Shanice Williams, Rebecca Metcalfe, Rachael Thomas, Riina Richardson, Konstantinos Gerasimidis, Christopher J. Nile, Craig Williams, Gordon Ramage, Nicholas Chia (Editor)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the strikingly high worldwide prevalence of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), treatment options for recurrent VVC (RVVC) remain limited, with many women experiencing failed clinical treatment with frontline azoles. Further, the cause of onset and recurrence of disease is largely unknown with few studies identifying potential mechanisms of failed treatment. This study aimed to assess a panel of clinical samples from healthy women and those with RVVC to investigate the influence of Candida, the vaginal microbiome, and how their interaction influenced disease pathology. 16S rRNA sequencing characterised disease by a reduction in specific health-associated Lactobacillus species, such as L. crispatus, coupled with an increase in L. iners. In vitro analysis showed Candida albicans clinical isolates are capable of heterogeneous biofilm formation and we have shown the presence of hyphae and C. albicans aggregates in vaginal lavage. Additionally, the ability of Lactobacillus to inhibit C. albicans biofilm formation and biofilm-related gene expression was demonstrated. Using RNA sequencing technology, we were able to identify a possible mechanism by which L. crispatus may contribute to re-establishing a healthy vaginal environment through amino-acid acquisition from C. albicans. This study highlights the potential formation and impact of Candida biofilms in RVVC. Additionally, it suggests RVVC is not entirely due to an arbitrary switch in C. albicans from commensal to pathogen and understanding interactions between the yeast and vaginal Lactobacillus species may be more crucial to elucidating the cause of RVVC and developing appropriate therapies.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Early online date10 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2021


  • Antifungal resistance
  • Biofilm
  • Candida
  • Clinical
  • Interkingdom
  • Lactobacillus
  • Microbiome
  • Vulvovaginal candidiasis


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