Natural antimicrobials and their role in vaginal health: A short review

S. E. Dover, A. A. Aroutcheva, S. Faro, M. L. Chikindas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Lactobacillus species maintain the vaginal ecosystem in a healthy condition by production of antimicrobial substances. Depletion of lactobacilli in the vagina results in bacterial vaginosis (BV), where the normal flora is replaced by several bacterial pathogens, usually Gardnerella vaginalis and obligate anaerobes. BV may cause complications such as premature labor, low birth weight and increased risk of HIV acquisition. The currently recommended antibiotic treatments for BV are not always effective and often lead to reoccurrence of the infection. In many cases, this is due to the antibiotic-resistant forms of the pathogens. Therefore, there is an interest in the development of treatments using antimicrobials derived primarily from Lactobacillus spp., such as ribosomally produced antimicrobial peptides (bacteriocins) and lactic acid. These substances effectively inhibit pathogenic bacteria, are safe and do not pose any threat to healthy vaginal Lactobacillus spp. It may be possible to find an effective treatment against BV while reducing the infection's reoccurrence and the treatment-related complications through hurdle technology. This would be achieved by combining antimicrobials produced by Lactobacillus spp. with different natural antimicrobials obtained from plants or other non-pathogenic organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-230
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Probiotics and Prebiotics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Animals
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Bacterial vaginosis
  • Bacteriocins
  • Lactic acid
  • Lactobacilli
  • Natural antimicrobials


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