Researchers report that the presence of a parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis in the prostate tissue may be associated with the development of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), but more studies are necessary to confirm this association.
The study, “Detection Of Trichomonas Vaginalis In Prostate Tissue And Serostatus In Patients With Asymptomatic Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia,” was published in the journal BMC Infectious Diseases.
BPH is known to be a progressive disease that affects older men, and, to date, no concrete association has been made between certain pathogens and the onset of the disease. However, T. vaginalis infection showed modest association with BPH.
“T. vaginalis is a common parasitic sexually transmitted infection, with an estimated 174 million annual infections globally,” the authors wrote in their report. “Studies have shown that T. vaginalis can be associated with asymptomatic infections in 50–75% of infected men and a number of observations support an association between T. vaginalis and prostatitis [infection or inflammation of the prostate gland]. As such, chronic prostatic infection with T. vaginalis may initiate an inflammatory response that could increase the risk of developing BPH …”
To investigate this hypothesis, 171 BPH patients 60 years and older and with no symptoms of prostatitis, and an equal number of age-matched healthy subjects with no urinary symptoms were included in the study. Five or six small biopsy samples from the prostate were collected from each patient, to confirm the diagnosis of BPH and for the detection of T. vaginalis DNA and protein in that organ, as well as a blood sample for the detection of the parasite. All patients provided information on the sexual history and sexually transmitted infections.
In the prostate, T. vaginalis DNA and protein was present in 42 (24.6 percent) and 37 (21.6 percent) BPH patients, respectively. In the blood, this parasite was detected in 53 (31 percent) BPH patients and in 27 percent of the healthy subjects. However, the team found no significant association between BPH and the presence of the parasite in the blood or in the prostate.
“We also conclude from this study that a large proportion of the detected trichomonas infections in men were chronic, asymptomatic infections, which, without treatment, may have progressed to the prostate tissue causing chronic prostate infection,” the authors wrote. “This would induce an inflammatory response in the normal prostate that may potentially lead … to BPH.”
Future studies are warranted to understand how the presence of T. vaginalis in the prostate tissue may cause a response to the chronic and asymptomatic development of BPH in these men.