Trichomonas vaginalis: a possible foe to prostate cancer

  • Ziwen Zhu, Kristoffer T. Davidson, Andrew Brittingham, Mark R. Wakefield, Qian Bai, Huaping Xiao, Yujiang Fang
  • Cancer Immunology Immunotherapy, September 2016, Springer Science + Business Media
  • DOI: 10.1007/s12032-016-0832-y

What is it about?

In this study, the effect of Trichomonas vaginalis (T. Vag) culture supernatant on prostate cancer cells was investigated. It is found that T. Vag supernatant inhibited growth of PC-3 prostate cancer by the mechanism of upregulation of an important anti-proliferative protein p21 and downregulation of an important anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-2. The growth inhibition effect of culture supernatant of T. Vag is also true when testing another prostate cancer cell line DU145. This strongly indicates that its growth inhibitory effect is not limited to a specific prostate cancer cell line.

Why is it important?

Trichomonas vaginalis (T. Vag) is a common sexually transmitted extracellular protozoan that may cause urethritis and prostatitis in men. Many male patients with the infection of T. Vag remain asymptomatic resulting in only limited knowledge available regarding its relationship with prostate cancer. The presence of T. Vag has been shown in normal prostate gland as well as in hyperplastic prostate gland. Furthermore, T. Vag has also been shown to exist in the prostates in patients with prostatitis, urinary tract infection and other prostatic disease. Our study stands on these findings and extends the knowledge that a seemly unwelcomed T. Vag might be potentially beneficial to patients with prostate cancer.


Ziwen Zhu
University of Missouri Columbia

Despite the interesting finding, it might be necessary to emphasize that it should be cautious to interpret our results due to lacking of in vivo animal or clinical data. Further clinical study is warranted to directly investigate the role of Trichomonas vaginalis in the initiation and/or promotion of prostate cancer. Nevertheless, our study suggests that the usage of a “bad guy” might be an alternative strategy to constrain another “bad guy”.

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The following have contributed to this page: Ziwen Zhu