Trichomonas vaginalis promotes apoptosis of human neutrophils by activating caspase-3 and reducing Mcl-1 expression

J. H. Kang, H. O. Song, J. S. Ryu, M. H. Shin, J. M. Kim, Y. S. Cho, J. F. Alderete, M. H. Ahn, D. Y. Min

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Neutrophils are the predominant inflammatory cells found in the vaginal discharge of patients with Trichomonas vaginalis infection. However, it is not known whether neutrophil apoptosis is induced by live T. vaginalis. Therefore, we examined whether T. vaginalis can influence neutrophil apoptosis, and also whether caspase-3 and the Bcl-2 family members are involved in the apoptosis. Thus, human neutrophils were incubated with live T. vaginalis and neutrophil apoptosis was evaluated by Giemsa, annexin V-PI, and DiOC6 stainings. The neutrophil apoptosis was significantly higher in those incubated with T. vaginalis than in the control group. When trichomonads were pre-treated with mAb to AP65 (adhesin protein), or when trophozoites were separated from neutrophils using a Transwell chamber, neutrophil apoptosis was significantly reduced. The activation of caspase-3 was evident in neutrophils undergoing spontaneous apoptosis but was markedly enhanced during T. vaginalis-induced apoptosis. Moreover, the inhibition of caspase-3 effectively reduced T. vaginalis-induced apoptosis. Trichomonad-induced apoptosis was also associated with reduced expression of the neutrophil anti-apoptotic protein, Mcl-1. These results indicate that T. vaginalis alters Mcl-1 expression and caspase-3 activation, thereby inducing apoptosis of human neutrophils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-446
Number of pages8
JournalParasite Immunology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Apoptosis
  • Caspase-3
  • Mcl-1
  • Neutrophil
  • Trichomonas vaginalis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Immunology


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