A bacterial biofilm is a structured community of bacteria in a self-produced extracellular matrix, adherent to an inert surface or biological tissue. The involvement of biofilm in a bacterial infection implies that the infection is difficult to treat and that the patient will probably experience relapses of the condition. In bacterial vaginosis (BV), the lactobacilli concentration decreases, while the bacterial load of other (facultative) anaerobic bacteria increases. A hallmark of BV is the presence of clue cells, now known as the result of a polymicrobial biofilm formed in vaginal epithelial cells. Current knowledge of the individual roles of bacterial species involved in polymicrobial BV biofilms or interactions between these species are not fully known. In addition, knowledge of the composition matrix and triggers of biofilm formation is still lacking. Bacteria are able to attach to the surface of indwelling medical devices and cover these surfaces with biofilm. Vaginally inserted devices, such as tampons, intra-uterine devices and vaginal rings, can also be colonized by bacteria and be subjected to biofilm formation. This might hamper release of active product in case of drug-releasing devices such as vaginal rings, or promote the presence of unfavorable bacteria in the vagina. This paper reviews current knowledge of biofilms in the vaginal environment.
- Journal Article