An infection by a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis may cause inflammation that leads to the development of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a new study shows.
Treating T. vaginalis infection with drugs could reduce the inflammation and alleviate the symptoms associated with BPH, including lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), according to researchers.
The study, published in the Korean Journal of Parasitology, is titled “Inflammatory Responses in a Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia Epithelial Cell Line (BPH-1) Infected with Trichomonas vaginalis.”
Researchers led by Prof. Jae-Sook Ryu from Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, grew BPH epithelial cells lines in the laboratory and infected them with T. vaginalis. They measured the production and activity of inflammatory cell signaling molecules called cytokines.
They saw that when BPH cells were infected with T. vaginalis, they produced cytokines such as CXCL8, CCL2, IL-1β, and IL-6, which promote inflammation. They also showed that these cytokines induced the migration of cells of the immune system called monocytes and mast cells.
T. vaginalis is a flagellated protozoan parasite that causes the most prevalent sexually transmitted infection (STI) worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that T. vaginalis causes 274 million STIs a year.
The parasite has been associated with prostatitis, or inflammation of the prostate, BPH, and even prostate cancer. It has been suggested that it may also lead to urethritis (inflammation of the tube carrying urine from the bladder to the outside), epididymitis (inflammation of the tube that stores and carries sperm), and infertility.
“We suggest that T. vaginalis infection of BPH patients may induce inflammatory responses that contribute to the development of lower urinary tract symptoms,” the authors said. This study confirms that parasitic infections can induce inflammation leading to the development of BPH, they said.