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1.  T lymphocytes in the murine vaginal mucosa are phenotypically distinct from those in the periphery. 
Infection and Immunity  1996;64(9):3793-3799.
The results from both clinical studies of women with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis and a murine model of experimental vaginitis indicate that systemic cell-mediated immunity may not represent a dominant host defense mechanism against vaginal infections by Candida albicans. Recent experimental evidence indicates the presence of local vaginal immune reactivity against C. albicans. The present study was designed to examine T-lymphocyte subpopulations in the vaginal mucosae of naive CBA/J mice. Vaginal lymphocytes (VL) were isolated by collagenase digestion of whole vaginal tissues. Cell populations were identified by flow cytometry, and the results were compared with those for both lymph node cells (LNC) and peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL). The results of flow cytometry showed that 45% +/- 10% of lymphocytes in the vaginal mucosa are CD3+ compared with 75% +/- 5% in LNC and 50% +/- 5% in PBL. The majority (85%) of CD3+ VL are CD4+ and express the alpha/beta T-cell receptor (TCR), similar to the results for LNC and PBL. In contrast to LNC and PBL, VL contain a significantly higher percentage (15 to 20%) of gamma/delta TCR+ cells, 80% or more of which appear to express CD4. In addition, while CD4-CD8 cell ratios in LNC and PBL were 3:1 and 6:1, respectively, only 1% of VL expressed CD8, resulting in a CD4-CD8 cell ratio of > 100:1. Finally, while LNC and PBL recognized two epitope-distinct (GK 1.5 and 2B6) anti-CD4 antibodies, VL recognized only 2B6 anti-CD4 antibodies. Further analysis of VL showed that Thy-1 cells, but not CD4 cells, were reduced after intravaginal injection of complement-fixing anti-Thy-1.2 and GK 1.5 anti-CD4 antibodies, respectively. Taken together, these data suggest that T lymphocytes in the vaginal mucosae of mice are phenotypically distinct from those in the periphery and that CD4+ VL have an uncharacteristic or atypical expression of the CD4 receptor.
PMCID: PMC174295  PMID: 8751931
2.  Circulating CD4 and CD8 T cells have little impact on host defense against experimental vaginal candidiasis. 
Infection and Immunity  1995;63(7):2403-2408.
The etiology of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis in otherwise healthy women of child-bearing age remains an enigma. To date, results from both clinical studies and a murine model of vaginal candidiasis indicate that Candida vaginitis can occur in the presence of Candida-specific Th1-type cell-mediated immunity expressed in the peripheral circulation. The present study was designed to determine the role of circulating CD4 and CD8 cells in primary and secondary vaginal infections with Candida albicans. Vaginal fungal burden, Candida-specific delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH), and lymph node cell Th1/Th2 cytokine production were monitored in CD4 and/or CD8 cell-depleted mice during persistent primary vaginal infections and secondary vaginal infections against which partial protection was observed. Treatment of mice with anti-CD4 or anti-CD8 antibodies resulted in 90% or greater depletion of the respective cell populations. Mice depleted of CD4 cells had significantly reduced Candida-specific DTH and lymph node cell Th1-type cytokine production during a primary vaginal infection, as well as reduced anamnestic DTH during a secondary vaginal infection. In contrast, mice depleted of CD8 cells showed only reduced gamma interferon production during a primary infection; no alterations in DTH were observed. Despite reductions in DTH and cytokine production, however, CD4 and/or CD8 cell depletion had no effect on vaginal C. albicans burden in mice after a primary or secondary vaginal inoculation. Taken together, these results suggest that while circulating CD4 and CD8 cells contribute to systemic Candida-specific cell-mediated immunity in vaginally infected mice, neither CD4 nor CD8 circulating T cells appear to provide significant host defenses against C. albicans at the vaginal mucosa.
PMCID: PMC173321  PMID: 7790050
3.  Local Production of Chemokines during Experimental Vaginal Candidiasis 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(11):5820-5826.
Recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis, caused by Candida albicans, is a significant problem in women of childbearing age. Although cell-mediated immunity (CMI) due to T cells and cytokines is the predominant host defense mechanism against C. albicans at mucosal tissue sites, host defense mechanisms against C. albicans at the vaginal mucosa are poorly understood. Based on an estrogen-dependent murine model of vaginal candidiasis, our data suggest that systemic CMI is ineffective against C. albicans vaginal infections. Thus, we have postulated that local immune mechanisms are critical for protection against infection. In the present study, the kinetic production of chemokines normally associated with the chemotaxis of T cells, macrophages (RANTES, MIP-1α, MCP-1), and polymorphonuclear neutrophils (MIP-2) was examined following intravaginal inoculation of C. albicans in estrogen-treated or untreated mice. Results showed significant increases in MCP-1 protein and mRNA in vaginal tissue of infected mice as early as 2 and 4 days postinoculation, respectively, that continued through a 21-day observation period, irrespective of estrogen status. No significant changes were observed with RANTES, MIP-1α, or MIP-2, although relatively high constitutive levels of RANTES mRNA and MIP-2 protein were observed. Furthermore, intravaginal immunoneutralization of MCP-1 with anti-MCP-1 antibodies resulted in a significant increase in vaginal fungal burden early during infection, suggesting that MCP-1 plays some role in reducing the fungal burden during vaginal infection. However, the lack of changes in leukocyte profiles in vaginal lavage fluids collected from infected versus uninfected mice suggests that MCP-1 functions to control vaginal C. albicans titers in a manner independent of cellular chemotactic activity.
PMCID: PMC96961  PMID: 10531235
4.  Mice immunized by primary vaginal Candida albicans infection develop acquired vaginal mucosal immunity. 
Infection and Immunity  1995;63(2):547-553.
It has been postulated that systemic cell-mediated immunity (CMI) is an important host defense mechanism against Candida infections of the vagina. However, in an estrogen-dependent murine model of experimental vaginal candidiasis, we recently showed that systemic Candida-specific Th1-type CMI induced by immunization with Candida culture filtrate antigen had no effect on vaginal Candida population levels during the course of a vaginal infection. In the present study, mice given a second vaginal inoculation in the presence of peripheral Candida-specific Th1-type CMI induced by prior vaginal infection had anamnestic-type increased delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses, concomitant with significantly fewer Candida organisms in the vagina than in primary-infected mice. In addition, organisms in secondary-infected mice were fragmented and superficial penetration into the epithelium was reduced. The systemic presence of Candida-specific T suppressor (Ts) cells that significantly suppressed the infection-derived anamnestic DTH reactivity did not abrogate the protective effect in the vagina. Additional experiments showed that vaginally immunized mice were not protected from gastrointestinal or systemic candidiasis and, in contrast to mice with a second vaginal infection, did not demonstrate anamnestic DTH reactivity. These results suggest that a moderate level of local protection against a Candida vaginal infection can be achieved by vaginal immunization but that the protective role of acquired peripheral Candida-specific Th1-type reactivity at the vaginal mucosa appears to be limited.
PMCID: PMC173030  PMID: 7822020
5.  Antiretroviral Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Prevents Vaginal Transmission of HIV-1 in Humanized BLT Mice 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(1):e16.
Worldwide, vaginal transmission now accounts for more than half of newly acquired HIV-1 infections. Despite the urgency to develop and implement novel approaches capable of preventing HIV transmission, this process has been hindered by the lack of adequate small animal models for preclinical efficacy and safety testing. Given the importance of this route of transmission, we investigated the susceptibility of humanized mice to intravaginal HIV-1 infection.
Methods and Findings
We show that the female reproductive tract of humanized bone marrow–liver–thymus (BLT) mice is reconstituted with human CD4+ T and other relevant human cells, rendering these humanized mice susceptible to intravaginal infection by HIV-1. Effects of HIV-1 infection include CD4+ T cell depletion in gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) that closely mimics what is observed in HIV-1–infected humans. We also show that pre-exposure prophylaxis with antiretroviral drugs is a highly effective method for preventing vaginal HIV-1 transmission. Whereas 88% (7/8) of BLT mice inoculated vaginally with HIV-1 became infected, none of the animals (0/5) given pre-exposure prophylaxis of emtricitabine (FTC)/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) showed evidence of infection (Chi square = 7.5, df = 1, p = 0.006).
The fact that humanized BLT mice are susceptible to intravaginal infection makes this system an excellent candidate for preclinical evaluation of both microbicides and pre-exposure prophylactic regimens. The utility of humanized mice to study intravaginal HIV-1 transmission is particularly highlighted by the demonstration that pre-exposure prophylaxis can prevent intravaginal HIV-1 transmission in the BLT mouse model.
J. Victor Garcia and colleagues show that mice with immune systems reconstituted from human bone marrow, liver, and thymus transplants provide a model for prevention of intravaginal HIV infection.
Editors' Summary
Since the first cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in 1981, the AIDS epidemic has spread rapidly. About 33 million people are now infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of AIDS. More than half of newly acquired infections now occur in women, mostly through unprotected vaginal sex with an infected male partner. Women are biologically more susceptible than men to HIV infection during vaginal intercourse and often cannot persuade their partner to use a condom. Consequently, alternative strategies that prevent intravaginal transmission of HIV (infection through the vagina) are urgently needed, particularly strategies that women can use without their partner's agreement. A vaccine would be ideal but it could be many years before an effective HIV vaccine is available so researchers are investigating other preventative strategies such as the use of microbicides—compounds that protect against HIV when applied inside the vagina—and pre-exposure treatment (prophylaxis) with antiretroviral drugs.
Why Was This Study Done?
Before any new strategy to prevent intravaginal HIV transmission is tried by women, it has to be tested in animals. Currently, this can only be done in macaques, an expensive option. In this study, the researchers have investigated whether “humanized BLT” mice could be used instead. When HIV enters the human body during vaginal intercourse, it sticks to dendritic cells (a type of immune system cell) in the vaginal lining. These cells carry the virus to the body's lymphoid tissues (collections of immune cells), where it infects and kills CD4+ T cells (another type of immune cell). Dendritic cells and CD4+ T cells have molecules on their surface that HIV recognizes. Mice are not normally susceptible to infection with HIV because their immune system cells lack these molecules. Humanized BLT mice have a nearly human immune system—BLT stands for bone marrow, liver, thymus. They are produced by implanting pieces of human fetal liver and thymus (the organ where T cells learn to recognize foreign invaders) under the kidney capsule of immunodeficient mice (animals born without an immune system) and then transplanting human hematopoietic stem cells (the source of the major immune system cells) into the mice.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
When the researchers examined the female reproductive tract of humanized BLT mice for human immune system cells, they found CD4+ T cells, dendritic cells and macrophages, all of which are involved in HIV infection. Furthermore, half of the blood cells of the BLT mice were human. Most of the BLT mice, the researchers report, were susceptible to intravaginal HIV infection as shown, for example, by a rapid loss of human CD4+ T cells from their blood. However, BLT mice pretreated with antiretroviral drugs (a mixture of emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) were resistant to intravaginal HIV infection. As in human HIV infections, CD4+ T cells were also depleted in several other organs of the BLT mice after intravaginal HIV infection. Again, this depletion was prevented by antiretroviral pre-exposure prophylaxis. Finally, human CD4+ T cells also disappeared from the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (an important site for HIV replication and CD4+ T cell depletion during human HIV disease) of the BLT mice after infection with HIV.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that humanized BLT mice are susceptible to intravaginal infection with HIV and that many aspects of HIV infection in these mice closely mimic infection in people. In addition, by showing that pre-exposure prophylaxis with antiretroviral drugs prevents HIV infection, these results suggest that humanized BLT mice could be used to test new strategies designed to prevent intravaginal infection. As with all animal models, any approach that works in humanized BLT mice will still have to be tested in people. Nevertheless, these findings provide preclinical evidence that pre-exposure prophylaxis with antiretroviral drugs may be an effective way to prevent intravaginal transmission of HIV and, therefore, provide valuable support for clinical trials of this approach.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS and on HIV infection in women
HIVInSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including articles on women and HIV and on safer sex, which includes information on pre-exposure prophylaxis and microbicides
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on HIV prevention, on women, HIV, and AIDS, and on microbicides
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on HIV/AIDS, including information on HIV/AIDS among women and on CDC trials of pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention (in English and some information in Spanish)
PrEP Watch is a comprehensive information source on pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention
PMCID: PMC2194746  PMID: 18198941
6.  Mucosal Immunity to Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Infection in the Mouse Vagina Is Impaired by In Vivo Depletion of T Lymphocytes 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(4):2677-2685.
Intravaginal (IVAG) inoculation of wild-type herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) in mice causes epithelial infection followed by lethal neurological illness, while IVAG inoculation of attenuated HSV-2 causes epithelial infection followed by development of protective immunity against subsequent IVAG challenge with wild-type virus. The role of T cells in this immunity was studied by in vivo depletion of these cells with monoclonal antibodies. Three groups of mice were used for each experiment: nonimmune/challenged mice, immune/challenged mice, and immune depleted mice [immune mice depleted of a T-cell subset(s) shortly before challenge with HSV-2]. Mice were assessed for epithelial infection 24 h after challenge, virus protein in the vaginal lumen 3 days after challenge, and neurological illness 8 to 14 days after challenge. Monoclonal antibodies to CD4, CD8, or Thy-1 markedly reduced T cells in blood, spleen, and vagina, but major histocompatibility complex class II antigens were still partially upregulated in the vaginal epithelium after virus challenge, indicating that virus-specific memory T-cell function was not entirely eliminated from the vagina. Nevertheless, immune mice depleted of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, Thy-1+ T cells, or CD8+ T cells alone had greater viral infection in the vaginal epithelium than nondepleted immune mice, indicating that T cells contribute to immunity against vaginal HSV-2 infection. All immune depleted mice retained substantial immunity to epithelial infection and were immune to neurological illness, suggesting that other immune mechanisms such as virus-specific antibody may also contribute to immunity.
PMCID: PMC109710  PMID: 9525585
7.  Candida-specific Th1-type responsiveness in mice with experimental vaginal candidiasis. 
Infection and Immunity  1993;61(10):4202-4207.
The role of systemic cell-mediated immunity (CMI) as a host defense mechanism in the vagina is poorly understood. Using a murine pseudoestrus model of experimental vaginal candidiasis, we previously found that animals given a vaginal inoculum of viable Candida albicans blastoconidia acquired a persistent vaginal infection and developed Candida-specific delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses. The present study was designed to characterize the peripheral CMI reactivity generated from the vaginal infection in mice and to determine whether pseudoestrus is a prerequisite for the induction of peripheral CMI reactivity. Mice treated or not treated with estrogen and given a vaginal inoculum of C. albicans blastoconidia were examined for 4 weeks for their vaginal Candida burden and peripheral CMI reactivity, including DTH responsiveness and in vitro Th1 (interleukin-2 [IL-2], gamma interferon [IFN-gamma]/Th2 (IL-4, IL-10)-type lymphokine production in response to Candida antigens. Results showed that although mice not treated with estrogen before being given a vaginal inoculum of C. albicans blastoconidia developed only a short-lived vaginal infection and harbored significantly fewer Candida CFU in the vagina compared with those given estrogen and then infected; DTH reactivity was equivalent in both groups. In vitro measurement of CMI reactivity further showed that lymph node cells from both estrogen- and non-estrogen-treated infected mice produced elevated levels of IL-2 and IFN-gamma in response to Candida antigens during the 4 weeks after vaginal inoculation. In contrast, lymph node cells from the same vaginally infected mice showed no IL-10 production and only small elevations of IL-4 during week 4 of infection. These results suggest that mice with experimental vaginal candidiasis develop predominantly Th1-type Candida-specific peripheral CMI reactivity and that similar patterns of Th1-type reactivity occur in mice regardless of the persistence of infection and the estrogen status of the infected mice.
PMCID: PMC281145  PMID: 8406809
8.  Antiviral CD8+ T cells in the genital tract control viral replication and delay progression to AIDS after vaginal SIV challenge in rhesus macaques immunized with virulence attenuated SHIV 89.6 
Journal of Internal Medicine  2009;265(1):67-77.
Genescà M, McChesney MB, Miller CJ (Center for Comparative Medicine and California National Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis, CA, USA). Antiviral CD8+ T cells in the genital tract control viral replication and delay progression to AIDS after vaginal SIV challenge in rhesus macaques immunized with virulence attenuated SHIV 89.6 (Review).
The recently failed clinical efficacy trial of an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) vaccine that elicits antiviral CD8+ T-cell responses has emphasized the challenge of producing an effective vaccine against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)/rhesus monkey model of AIDS, live-attenuated lentivirus ‘vaccines’ provide the best protection from uncontrolled viral replication and clinical disease after pathogenic SIV challenge. This review summarizes a recent series of studies in which we show that after vaginal SIV challenge of rhesus macaques immunized with an attenuated lentivirus protection from uncontrolled viral replication is primarily mediated by CD8+ T cells in the vaginal mucosa. Immunization with a chimeric simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) results in a systemic infection that induces a moderate population of SIV-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells with cytolytic potential in the vaginal mucosa. Depletion of CD8+ T cells at the time of SIV challenge completely abrogates the protection mediated by prior infection with attenuated SHIV. Further after vaginal SIV challenge, the only significant expansion of SIV-specific T cells occurs in the vagina in these animals. No significant expansion of T-cell responses was observed in systemic lymphoid tissues. Thus, the presence of SIV-specific CD8+ T cells in the vagina on the day of vaginal SIV challenge and a modest expansion of local effector T cells is sufficient to stop uncontrolled SIV replication. It seems that T-cell based vaccine strategies that can elicit mucosal effector CD8+ T-cell populations and avoid inducing systemic T-cell proliferation upon exposure to HIV have the greatest potential for mimicking the success of live-attenuated lentiviral vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3401014  PMID: 19093961
caspase-3; CD107; cytolytic T cells; Ki67; T-cell activation; vagina
9.  Immune Cell-Mediated Protection against Vaginal Candidiasis: Evidence for a Major Role of Vaginal CD4+ T Cells and Possible Participation of Other Local Lymphocyte Effectors  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(9):4791-4797.
The protective roles of different lymphocyte subsets were investigated in a rat vaginal candidiasis model by adoptive transfer of vaginal lymphocytes (VL) or sorted, purified CD3+ T cells, CD4+ or CD8+ T cells, or CD3− CD5+ B cells from the vaginas of naïve or immune rats following three rounds of Candida albicans infection. The adoptive transfer of total VL from nonimmune animals did not alter the course of vaginal candidiasis of the recipient rats. In contrast, the animals receiving total VL or CD3+ T cells from immune rats showed a highly significant acceleration of fungus clearance compared with animals which received nonimmune VL. The animals with vaginal CD3− CD5+ B cells transferred from immune rats also had fewer Candida CFU than the controls, but fungal clearance was significantly retarded with respect to the animals administered immune T cells. Sorted, purified CD4+ and CD8+ vaginal T cells from immune rats were also adoptively transferred to naïve animals. Although both populations were seen to accelerate the clearance of the fungus from the vagina, CD4+ T cells were much more effective than CD8+ T cells. Overall, there was no difference between the antifungal effects of immune vaginal CD4+ T cells and those achievable with the transfer of whole, immune VL. Histological observations of the vaginal tissues of rats with adoptively transferred immune T cells demonstrated a remarkable accumulation of lymphocytes in the subepithelial lamina propria and also infiltrating the mucosal epithelium. These results strongly suggest that distinct vaginal lymphocyte subsets participate in the adaptive anti-Candida immunity at the vaginal level, with the vaginal CD4+ T cells probably playing a major role.
PMCID: PMC128254  PMID: 12183521
10.  Cell Adhesion Molecule and Lymphocyte Activation Marker Expression during Experimental Vaginal Candidiasis 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(8):5072-5079.
Cell-mediated immunity by Th1-type CD4+ T cells is the predominant host defense mechanism against mucosal candidiasis. However, studies using an estrogen-dependent murine model of vaginal candidiasis have demonstrated little to no change in resident vaginal T cells during infection and no systemic T-cell infiltration despite the presence of Candida-specific systemic Th1-type responses in infected mice. The present study was designed to further investigate these observations by characterizing T-cell activation and cell adhesion molecule expression during primary and secondary C. albicans vaginal infections. While flow cytometry analysis of activation markers showed some evidence for activation of CD3+ draining lymph node and/or vaginal lymphocytes during both primary and secondary vaginal Candida infection, CD3+ cells expressing the homing receptors and integrins α4β7, αM290β7, and α4β1 in draining lymph nodes of mice with primary and secondary infections were reduced compared to results for uninfected mice. At the local level, few vaginal lymphocytes expressed integrins, with only minor changes observed during both primary and secondary infections. On the other hand, immunohistochemical analysis of vaginal cell adhesion molecule expression showed increases in mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule 1 and vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 expression during both primary and secondary infections. Altogether, these data suggest that although the vaginal tissue is permissive to cellular infiltration during a vaginal Candida infection, the reduced numbers of systemic cells expressing the reciprocal cellular adhesion molecules may preempt cellular infiltration, thereby limiting Candida-specific T-cell responses against infection.
PMCID: PMC98602  PMID: 11447188
11.  Effects of preinduced Candida-specific systemic cell-mediated immunity on experimental vaginal candidiasis. 
Infection and Immunity  1994;62(3):1032-1038.
It has been postulated that systemic cell-mediated immunity (CMI) is an important host defense factor against recurrent vaginal infections caused by Candida albicans. Using an estrogen-dependent murine model of vaginal candidiasis, we have previously shown that mice inoculated vaginally with C. albicans acquire a persistent vaginal infection and develop Candida-specific Th1-type systemic CMI. In the present study, experimental vaginitis was monitored in the presence of preinduced systemic Candida-specific CMI. Mice immunized systemically with C. albicans culture filtrate antigens (CaCF) in complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) had Th1-type reactivity similar to that of vaginally infected mice. CaCF given to mice intravenously induced Candida-specific suppressor T (Ts) cells. Mice preimmunized with CaCF-CFA and given a vaginal inoculum of C. albicans had positive delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) reactivity from the time of vaginal inoculation through 4 weeks. Conversely, mice infected in the presence of Ts cells had significantly reduced DTH responses throughout the 4-week period in comparison with naive infected mice. However, the presence of Th1-type Candida-specific DTH cells or Ts cells, either induced in mice prior to vaginal inoculation or adoptively transferred at the time of inoculation, had no effect on the vaginal Candida burden through 4 weeks of infection. A similar lack of effects was obtained in animals with lower Candida population levels resulting from a reduction in or absence of exogenous estrogen. These results suggest that systemic Th1-type CMI demonstrable with CaCF is unrelated to protective events at the level of the vaginal mucosa.
PMCID: PMC186220  PMID: 8112837
12.  Vaginal yeast colonisation, prevalence of vaginitis, and associated local immunity in adolescents 
Objectives: To evaluate point prevalence vaginal yeast colonisation and symptomatic vaginitis in middle adolescents and to identify relation of these yeast conditions with reproductive hormones, sexual activity, sexual behaviours, and associated local immunity.
Methods: Middle adolescent females (n = 153) were evaluated for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), asymptomatic yeast colonisation, and symptomatic vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) by standard criteria. Also evaluated were local parameters, including vaginal associated cytokines, chemokines, and antibodies, vaginal epithelial cell antifungal activity, and Candida specific peripheral blood lymphocyte responses. Correlations between yeast colonisation/vaginitis and local immunomodulators, reproductive hormones, douching, sexual activity, condom use, and STIs were identified.
Results: Rates of point prevalence asymptomatic yeast colonisation (22%) were similar to adults and similarly dominated by Candida albicans, but with uncharacteristically high vaginal yeast burden. In contrast with the high rate of STIs (18%), incidence of symptomatic VVC was low (<2%). Immunological properties included high rates of Candida specific systemic immune sensitisation, a Th2 type vaginal cytokine profile, total and Candida specific vaginal antibodies dominated by IgA, and moderate vaginal epithelial cell anti-Candida activity. Endogenous reproductive hormones were in low concentration. Sexual activity positively correlated with vaginal yeast colonisation, whereas vaginal cytokines (Th1, Th2, proinflammatory), chemokines, antibodies, contraception, douching, or condom use did not.
Conclusion: Asymptomatic vaginal yeast colonisation in adolescents is distinct in some ways with adults, and positively correlates with sexual activity, but not with local immunomodulators or sexual behaviours. Despite several factors predictive for VVC, symptomatic VVC was low compared to STIs.
PMCID: PMC1758371  PMID: 14755036
13.  Role for Dendritic Cells in Immunoregulation during Experimental Vaginal Candidiasis  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(6):3213-3221.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) caused by the commensal organism Candida albicans remains a significant problem among women of childbearing age, with protection against and susceptibility to infection still poorly understood. While cell-mediated immunity by CD4+ Th1-type cells is protective against most forms of mucosal candidiasis, no protective role for adaptive immunity has been identified against VVC. This is postulated to be due to immunoregulation that prohibits a more profound Candida-specific CD4+ T-cell response against infection. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of dendritic cells (DCs) in the induction phase of the immune response as a means to understand the initiation of the immunoregulatory events. Immunostaining of DCs in sectioned murine lymph nodes draining the vagina revealed a profound cellular reorganization with DCs becoming concentrated in the T-cell zone throughout the course of experimental vaginal Candida infection consistent with cell-mediated immune responsiveness. However, analysis of draining lymph node DC subsets revealed a predominance of immunoregulation-associated CD11c+ B220+ plasmacytoid DCs (pDCs) under both uninfected and infected conditions. Staining of vaginal DCs showed the presence of both DEC-205+ and pDCs, with extension of dendrites into the vaginal lumen of infected mice in close contact with Candida. Flow cytometric analysis of draining lymph node DC costimulatory molecules and activation markers from infected mice indicated a lack of upregulation of major histocompatibility complex class II, CD80, CD86, and CD40 during infection, consistent with a tolerizing condition. Together, the results suggest that DCs are involved in the immunoregulatory events manifested during a vaginal Candida infection and potentially through the action of pDCs.
PMCID: PMC1479243  PMID: 16714548
14.  A New Mouse Model for Female Genital Schistosomiasis 
Over 112 million people worldwide are infected with Schistosoma haematobium, one of the most prevalent schistosome species affecting humans. Female genital schistosomiasis (FGS) occurs when S. haematobium eggs are deposited into the female reproductive tract by adult worms, which can lead to pelvic pain, vaginal bleeding, genital disfigurement and infertility. Recent evidence suggests co-infection with S. haematobium increases the risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV. The associated mechanisms remain unclear due to the lack of a tractable animal model. We sought to create a mouse model conducive to the study of immune modulation and genitourinary changes that occur with FGS.
To model FGS in mice, we injected S. haematobium eggs into the posterior vaginal walls of 30 female BALB/c mice. A control group of 20 female BALB/c mice were injected with uninfected LVG hamster tissue extract. Histology, flow cytometry and serum cytokine levels were assessed at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks post egg injection. Voiding studies were performed at 1 week post egg injection.
Vaginal wall injection with S. haematobium eggs resulted in synchronous vaginal granuloma development within 2 weeks post-egg injection that persisted for at least 6 additional weeks. Flow cytometric analysis of vaginal granulomata revealed infiltration by CD4+ T cells with variable expression of the HIV co-receptors CXCR4 and CCR5. Granulomata also contained CD11b+F4/80+ cells (macrophages and eosinophils) as well as CXCR4+MerTK+ macrophages. Strikingly, vaginal wall-injected mice featured significant urinary frequency despite the posterior vagina being anatomically distant from the bladder. This may represent a previously unrecognized overactive bladder response to deposition of schistosome eggs in the vagina.
We have established a new mouse model that could potentially enable novel studies of genital schistosomiasis in females. Ongoing studies will further explore the mechanisms by which HIV target cells may be drawn into FGS-associated vaginal granulomata.
Author Summary
Over 112 million people worldwide are infected with Schistosoma haematobium worms. S. haematobium eggs tend to be deposited in the tissue of pelvic organs such as the urinary bladder, lower ureters, cervix and vagina. Key sequelae include hematuria, dysuria, urinary frequency, and an increased risk of bladder cancer. This form of schistosomiasis can also cause dyspareunia, vaginal bleeding, pruritis, and granulomata that appear as tumors in the female genital tract. Collectively, these signs and symptoms are termed female genital schistosomiasis (FGS). Recent studies suggest that FGS occurs more commonly in girls and women with HIV, suggesting that it may be a risk factor for becoming HIV-infected. Unfortunately, the pathophysiology of this co-infection is not well understood. A lack of an experimentally manipulable model has contributed to the paucity of research focusing on this parasite. We have circumvented the barriers to natural S. haematobium oviposition in the mouse by directly microinjecting parasite eggs into the vaginal mucosa. The injection of S. haematobium ova appears to trigger vaginal inflammation and scarring infiltration by leukocytes expressing HIV co-receptors, and increased urinary frequency. Our approach may provide a representative animal model that could contribute to new opportunities to better understand the basic molecular and cellular immunology of female genital schistosomiasis.
PMCID: PMC4006711  PMID: 24786606
15.  With Minimal Systemic T-Cell Expansion, CD8+ T Cells Mediate Protection of Rhesus Macaques Immunized with Attenuated Simian-Human Immunodeficiency Virus SHIV89.6 from Vaginal Challenge with Simian Immunodeficiency Virus▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(22):11181-11196.
The presence, at the time of challenge, of antiviral effector T cells in the vaginal mucosa of female rhesus macaques immunized with live-attenuated simian-human immunodeficiency virus 89.6 (SHIV89.6) is associated with consistent and reproducible protection from pathogenic simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) vaginal challenge (18). Here, we definitively demonstrate the protective role of the SIV-specific CD8+ T-cell response in SHIV-immunized monkeys by CD8+ lymphocyte depletion, an intervention that abrogated SHIV-mediated control of challenge virus replication and largely eliminated the SIV-specific T-cell responses in blood, lymph nodes, and genital mucosa. While in the T-cell-intact SHIV-immunized animals, polyfunctional and degranulating SIV-specific CD8+ T cells were present in the genital tract and lymphoid tissues from the day of challenge until day 14 postchallenge, strikingly, expansion of SIV-specific CD8+ T cells in the immunized monkeys was minimal and limited to the vagina. Thus, protection from uncontrolled SIV replication in animals immunized with attenuated SHIV89.6 is primarily mediated by CD8+ T cells that do not undergo dramatic systemic expansion after SIV challenge. These findings demonstrate that despite, and perhaps because of, minimal systemic expansion of T cells at the time of challenge, a stable population of effector-cytotoxic CD8+ T cells can provide significant protection from vaginal SIV challenge.
PMCID: PMC2573271  PMID: 18787003
16.  Mucosal Administration of CpG Oligodeoxynucleotide Elicits Strong CC and CXC Chemokine Responses in the Vagina and Serves as a Potent Th1-Tilting Adjuvant for Recombinant gD2 Protein Vaccination against Genital Herpes 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(11):5283-5291.
Although sexually transmitted pathogens are capable of inducing pathogen-specific immune responses, vaginal administration of nonreplicating antigens elicits only weak, nondisseminating immune responses. The present study was undertaken to examine the potential of CpG-containing oligodeoxynucleotide (CpG ODN) for induction of chemokine responses in the genital tract mucosa and also as a vaginal adjuvant in combination with glycoprotein D of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) for induction of antigen-specific immune responses. We found that a single intravaginal administration of CpG ODN in mice stimulates a rapid and potent response of CC chemokines macrophage inflammatory protein 1α (MIP-1α), MIP-1β, and RANTES as well as of CXC chemokines MIP-2 and IP-10 in the vagina and/or the genital lymph nodes. Importantly, intravaginal vaccination with recombinant gD2 in combination with CpG ODN gave rise to a strong antigen-specific Th1-like immune response in the genital lymph nodes as well as the spleens of the vaccinated mice. Further, such an immunization scheme conferred both systemic and mucosal immunoglobulin G antibody responses as well as protection against an otherwise lethal vaginal challenge with HSV-2. These results illustrate the potential of CpG ODN for induction of potent chemokine responses in the genital tract and also as a vaginal adjuvant for generation of Th1-type mucosal and systemic immune responses towards a nonreplicating antigen derived from a sexually transmitted pathogen. These data have implications for the development of a mucosal vaccine against genital herpes and possibly other sexually transmitted diseases.
PMCID: PMC1472142  PMID: 16699008
17.  Local Anticandidal Immune Responses in a Rat Model of Vaginal Infection by and Protection against Candida albicans 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(6):3297-3304.
Humoral (antibody [Ab]) and cellular Candida-specific immune responses in the vaginas of pseudoestrus rats were investigated during three successive infections by Candida albicans. After the first, protective infection, Abs against mannan and aspartyl proteinase antigens were present in the vaginal fluid, and their titers clearly increased during the two subsequent, rapidly healing infections. In all animals, about 65 and 10% of vaginal lymphocytes (VL) were CD3+ (T cells) and CD3− CD5+ (B cells), respectively. Two-thirds of the CD3+ T cells expressed the α/β and one-third expressed the γ/δ T-cell receptor (TCR). This proportion slightly fluctuated during the three rounds of C. albicans infection, but no significant differences between infected and noninfected rats were found. More relevant were the changes in the CD4+/CD8+ T-cell ratio, particularly for cells bearing the CD25 (interleukin-2 receptor α) marker. In fact, a progressively increased number of both CD4+ α/β TCR and CD4+ CD25+ VL was observed after the second and third Candida challenges, reversing the high initial CD8+ cell number of controls (estrogenized but uninfected rats). The CD3− CD5+ cells also almost doubled from the first to the third infection. Analysis of the cytokines secreted in the vaginal fluid of Candida-infected rats showed high levels of interleukin 12 (IL-12) during the first infection, followed by progressively increasing amounts of IL-2 and gamma interferon during the subsequent infections. No IL-4 or IL-5 was ever detected. During the third infection, VL with in vitro proliferative activity in response to an immunodominant mannoprotein antigen of C. albicans were present in the vaginal tissue. No response to this antigen by mitogen-responsive blood, lymph node, and spleen cells was found. In summary, the presence of protective Ab and T helper type 1 cytokines in the vaginal fluids, the in vitro proliferation of vaginal lymphocytes in response to Candida antigenic stimulation, and the increased number of activated CD4+ cells and some special B lymphocytes after C. albicans challenge constitute good evidence for induction of locally expressed Candida-specific Ab and cellular responses which are potentially involved in anticandidal protection at the vaginal level.
PMCID: PMC97585  PMID: 10816477
18.  Protective role of antimannan and anti-aspartyl proteinase antibodies in an experimental model of Candida albicans vaginitis in rats. 
Infection and Immunity  1997;65(8):3399-3405.
The role of antibodies (Abs) in the resistance to vaginal infection by Candida albicans was investigated by using a rat vaginitis model. Animals receiving antimannoprotein (anti-MP) and anti-aspartyl proteinase (Sap) Ab-containing vaginal fluids from rats clearing a primary C. albicans infection showed a highly significant level of protection against vaginitis compared to animals given Ab-free vaginal fluid from noninfected rats. Preabsorption of the Ab-containing fluids with either one or both proteins MP and Sap sequentially reduced or abolished, respectively, the level of protection. A degree of protection against vaginitis was also conferred by postinfectious administration of anti-Sap and anti-MP monoclonal antibodies (provided the latter were directed against mannan rather than protein epitopes of MP) and by intravaginal immunization with a highly purified, polysaccharide-free Sap preparation. Postinfectious administration of pepstatin A, a potent Sap inhibitor, greatly accelerated the clearance of C. albicans from rat vagina. No anti-MP or anti-Sap Abs were elicited during a C. albicans vaginal infection of congenitally athymic nude rats. Although they were as able as their euthymic counterparts to clear the primary infection, these animals did not show increased resistance to a rechallenge, demonstrating that induction of anticandidal protection in normal rats was a thymus-dependent Ab response. Overall, our data strengthen the concept that Abs against some defined Candida antigens are relevant in the mechanism of acquired anticandidal protection in vaginitis. The T-cell dependence of this protection may also provide a link between cell-mediated and humoral immunity in vaginal infection.
PMCID: PMC175481  PMID: 9234804
19.  Safety of a progesterone-releasing intravaginal device as assessed from vaginal mucosal integrity and indicators of systemic inflammation in postpartum dairy cows 
A clinical trial was conducted to investigate the animal safety of a progesterone-releasing intravaginal device (PRID). Anestrus cows at a mean of 63 ± 3.5 d in milk were randomly assigned to an ovulation-synchronization protocol that included placement of either a PRID or a placebo intravaginal device (PID) or no such treatment. At enrolment and at device removal 7 d later, blood samples were collected. The outcomes of interest included the vaginal reaction to the device, the vaginal mucosal integrity, and the results of bacterial culture of swabs of the vaginal mucosa. In addition, the leukocyte and haptoglobin responses were measured. Although only 5% of the PRID-treated animals compared with 19% of the PID-treated animals had a copious purulent vaginal discharge at the time of device removal, there was no significant difference in the proportions; furthermore, there was no evidence of vaginal mucosal damage associated with either device. The total blood leukocyte count was significantly lower in both the PRID-treated cows and the PID-treated cows after device removal compared with the start of treatment (P < 0.05) and compared with no treatment (P < 0.001); there was no difference in leukocyte response between the 2 device-treated groups. The decrease in leukocyte count was attributed to a significant reduction in the numbers of circulating neutrophils and lymphocytes, a pattern consistent with the luteal phase of the bovine estrus cycle. There was no significant difference in the circulating haptoglobin concentration between the 3 groups of cows. Culture revealed commensal bacterial growth in the vagina of all the cows.
PMCID: PMC2117366  PMID: 18214161
20.  Intravaginal Practices, Bacterial Vaginosis, and HIV Infection in Women: Individual Participant Data Meta-analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(2):e1000416.
Pooling of data from 14,874 women in an individual participant data meta-analysis by Nicola Low and colleagues reveals that some intravaginal practices increase the risk of HIV acquisition.
Identifying modifiable factors that increase women's vulnerability to HIV is a critical step in developing effective female-initiated prevention interventions. The primary objective of this study was to pool individual participant data from prospective longitudinal studies to investigate the association between intravaginal practices and acquisition of HIV infection among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Secondary objectives were to investigate associations between intravaginal practices and disrupted vaginal flora; and between disrupted vaginal flora and HIV acquisition.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a meta-analysis of individual participant data from 13 prospective cohort studies involving 14,874 women, of whom 791 acquired HIV infection during 21,218 woman years of follow-up. Data were pooled using random-effects meta-analysis. The level of between-study heterogeneity was low in all analyses (I2 values 0.0%–16.1%). Intravaginal use of cloth or paper (pooled adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 1.47, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.18–1.83), insertion of products to dry or tighten the vagina (aHR 1.31, 95% CI 1.00–1.71), and intravaginal cleaning with soap (aHR 1.24, 95% CI 1.01–1.53) remained associated with HIV acquisition after controlling for age, marital status, and number of sex partners in the past 3 months. Intravaginal cleaning with soap was also associated with the development of intermediate vaginal flora and bacterial vaginosis in women with normal vaginal flora at baseline (pooled adjusted odds ratio [OR] 1.24, 95% CI 1.04–1.47). Use of cloth or paper was not associated with the development of disrupted vaginal flora. Intermediate vaginal flora and bacterial vaginosis were each associated with HIV acquisition in multivariable models when measured at baseline (aHR 1.54 and 1.69, p<0.001) or at the visit before the estimated date of HIV infection (aHR 1.41 and 1.53, p<0.001), respectively.
This study provides evidence to suggest that some intravaginal practices increase the risk of HIV acquisition but a direct causal pathway linking intravaginal cleaning with soap, disruption of vaginal flora, and HIV acquisition has not yet been demonstrated. More consistency in the definition and measurement of specific intravaginal practices is warranted so that the effects of specific intravaginal practices and products can be further elucidated.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Since the first reported case of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in 1981, the number of people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, has risen steadily. By the end of 2009, an estimated 33.3 million people were living with HIV/AIDS. At the beginning of the epidemic, more men than women were infected with HIV but now, globally, more than half of all adults living with HIV/AIDS are women, and HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among women of child-bearing age. In sub-Saharan Africa, where more than two-thirds of HIV-positive people live, the situation for women is particularly bad. About 12 million women live with HIV/AIDS in this region compared with about 8 million men; among 15–24 year-olds, women are eight times more likely than men to be HIV-positive. This pattern of infection has developed because in sub-Saharan Africa most people contract HIV through heterosexual sex.
Why Was This Study Done?
If modifiable factors that increase women's vulnerability to HIV infection could be identified, it might be possible to develop effective female-initiated prevention interventions. Some experts think that intravaginal practices such as cleaning the vagina with soap or a cloth increase the risk of HIV infection by damaging the vagina's lining or by increasing bacterial vaginosis (a condition in which harmful bacteria disrupt the healthy vaginal flora) but the evidence for such an association is inconclusive. In this meta-analysis, the researchers pool individual participant data from several prospective longitudinal cohort studies to assess the association between intravaginal practices and HIV acquisition among women in sub-Saharan Africa. Meta-analysis is a statistical method that combines data from several studies to get a clearer view of the factors associated with of a disease than is possible from individual studies. In a prospective longitudinal cohort study, groups of participants with different baseline characteristics (here, women who did or did not use intravaginal practices), who do not have the outcome of interest at the start of the study (here, HIV infection) are followed to see whether these characteristics affect disease development.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers pooled individual participant data from 13 prospective cohort studies in sub-Saharan Africa involving nearly 15,000 women, 791 of whom acquired HIV, and asked whether HIV infection within 2 years of study enrollment was associated with self-reported intravaginal practices. That is, were women who used specific intravaginal practices more likely to become infected with HIV than women who did not use these practices? After controlling for age, marital status, and the number of recent sex partners, women who used cloth or paper to clean their vagina were nearly one and half times more likely to have acquired HIV infection as women who did not use this practice (a pooled adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] of 1.47). The insertion of products to dry or tighten the vagina and intravaginal cleaning with soap also increased women's chances of acquiring HIV (aHRs of 1.31 and 1.24, respectively). Moreover, intravaginal cleaning with soap was associated with the development of bacterial vaginosis, and disrupted vaginal flora and bacterial vaginosis were both associated with an increased risk of HIV acquisition.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that some intravaginal practices increase the risk of HIV acquisition but they do not prove that there is a causal link between any intravaginal practice, disruption of vaginal flora, and HIV acquisition. It could be that the women who use intravaginal practices share other unknown characteristics that affect their vulnerability to HIV infection. The accuracy of these findings is also likely to be affected by the use of self-reported data and inconsistent definitions of intravaginal practices. Nevertheless, given the widespread use of intravaginal practices in some sub-Saharan countries (95% of female sex workers in Kenya use such practices, for example), these findings suggest that encouraging women to use less harmful intravaginal practices (for example, washing with water alone) should be included in female-initiated HIV prevention research strategies in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions where intravaginal practices are common.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on HIV infection and AIDS and on bacterial vaginosis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including specific information about HIV/AIDS and women; it also has information on bacterial vaginosis (in English and Spanish)
HIV InSite has information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS nonprofit on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including HIV/AIDS and women and HIV/AIDS in Africa (in English and Spanish)
A full description of the researchers' study protocol is available
Several Web sites provide information on microbicides Global Campaign for Microbicides, Microbicides Development Programme, Microbicides Trials Network, and International Partnership for Microbicides
PMCID: PMC3039685  PMID: 21358808
21.  In Vivo Role of Nectin-1 in Entry of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) and HSV-2 through the Vaginal Mucosa 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(5):2530-2536.
Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is transmitted through the genital mucosa during sexual encounters. In recent years, HSV-1 has also become commonly associated with primary genital herpes. The mechanism of viral entry of HSV-1 and HSV-2 in the female genital tract is unknown. In order to understand the molecular interactions required for HSV entry into the vaginal epithelium, we examined the expression of herpesvirus entry mediator nectin-1 in the vagina of human and mouse at different stages of their hormonal cycle. Nectin-1 was highly expressed in the epithelium of human vagina throughout the menstrual cycle, whereas the mouse vaginal epithelium expressed nectin-1 only during the stages of the estrous cycle in which mice are susceptible to vaginal HSV infection. Furthermore, the ability of nectin-1 to mediate viral entry following intravaginal inoculation was examined in a mouse model of genital herpes. Vaginal infection with either HSV-1 or HSV-2 was blocked by preincubation of the virus with soluble recombinant nectin-1. Viral entry through the vaginal mucosa was also inhibited by preincubation of HSV-2 with antibody against gD. Together, these results suggest the importance of nectin-1 in mediating viral entry for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 in the genital mucosa in female hosts.
PMCID: PMC369262  PMID: 14963155
22.  Neutrophils Aid in Protection of the Vaginal Mucosae of Immune Mice against Challenge with Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(8):6380-6386.
Large numbers of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) infiltrated the murine vaginal mucosa within 24 h after intravaginal inoculation with an attenuated strain of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). The role of these cells in resolution of a primary genital infection and in protection of HSV-immune animals against challenge with a fully virulent HSV-2 strain was investigated. Depletion of greater than 95% of the PMNs at the vaginal mucosal surface prior to intravaginal inoculation with an attenuated HSV-2 strain resulted in significantly higher virus titers on days 3 to 7 but only slightly delayed resolution of the primary genital infection. These results suggest that neutrophils helped control the infection but that other immune mechanisms ultimately cleared the virus. Interestingly, depletion of PMNs from HSV-immune mice prior to challenge with a fully virulent HSV-2 strain resulted in a rise in virus titers to levels comparable to those of nonimmune mice and a more pronounced diminution of virus clearance from the vaginal mucosa despite the presence of HSV-specific B and T cells. Levels of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and HSV-specific antibody were comparable in neutrophil-depleted and control-treated immune mice following HSV-2 challenge, suggesting that RB6-8C5 treatment did not impair T- and B-cell function. Therefore, these results suggest that neutrophils play a role in limiting and clearing HSV-2 vaginal infections and that they are, in association with HSV-specific B and T cells, an important component in immune protection of the vaginal mucosa.
PMCID: PMC112717  PMID: 10400730
23.  Fungal Morphogenetic Pathways Are Required for the Hallmark Inflammatory Response during Candida albicans Vaginitis 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(2):532-543.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis, caused primarily by Candida albicans, presents significant health issues for women of childbearing age. As a polymorphic fungus, the ability of C. albicans to switch between yeast and hyphal morphologies is considered its central virulence attribute. Armed with new criteria for defining vaginitis immunopathology, the purpose of this study was to determine whether the yeast-to-hypha transition is required for the hallmark inflammatory responses previously characterized during murine vaginitis. Kinetic analyses of vaginal infection with C. albicans in C57BL/6 mice demonstrated that fungal burdens remained constant throughout the observation period, while polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN), S100A8, and interleukin-1β levels obtained from vaginal lavage fluid increased by day 3 onward. Lactate dehydrogenase activity was also positively correlated with increased effectors of innate immunity. Additionally, immunodepletion of neutrophils in infected mice confirmed a nonprotective role for PMNs during vaginitis. Determination of the importance of fungal morphogenesis during vaginitis was addressed with a two-pronged approach. Intravaginal inoculation of mice with C. albicans strains deleted for key transcriptional regulators (bcr1Δ/Δ, efg1Δ/Δ, cph1Δ/Δ, and efg1Δ/Δ cph1Δ/Δ) controlling the yeast-to-hypha switch revealed a crucial role for morphogenetic signaling through the Efg1 and, to a lesser extent, the Bcr1 pathways in contributing to vaginitis immunopathology. Furthermore, overexpression of transcription factors NRG1 and UME6, to maintain yeast and hyphal morphologies, respectively, confirmed the importance of morphogenesis in generating innate immune responses in vivo. These results highlight the yeast-to-hypha switch and the associated morphogenetic response as important virulence components for the immunopathogenesis of Candida vaginitis, with implications for transition from benign colonization to symptomatic infection.
PMCID: PMC3911367  PMID: 24478069
24.  Induction of antigen-specific antibodies in vaginal secretions by using a nontoxic mutant of heat-labile enterotoxin as a mucosal adjuvant. 
Infection and Immunity  1996;64(3):974-979.
Immunization of the female reproductive tract is important for protection against sexually transmitted diseases and other pathogens of the reproductive tract. However, intravaginal immunization with soluble antigens generally does not induce high levels of secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA). We recently developed safe mucosal adjuvants by genetically detoxifying Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxin, a molecule with a strong mucosal adjuvant activity, and here we describe the use of the nontoxic mutant LTK63 to induce a response in the mouse vagina against ovalbumin (Ova). We compared intravaginal and intranasal routes of immunization for induction of systemic and vaginal responses against LTK63 and Ova. We found that LTK63 is a potent mucosal immunogen when given by either the intravaginal or intranasal route. It induces a strong systemic antibody response and IgG and long-lasting IgA in the vagina. The appearance of vaginal IgA is delayed in the intranasally immunized mice, but the levels of vaginal anti-LTK63 IgA after repeated immunizations are higher in the intranasally immunized mice than in the intravaginally immunized mice. LTK63 also acts as a mucosal adjuvant, inducing a serum response against Ova, when given by both the intravaginal and intranasal routes. However, vaginal IgA against Ova is stimulated more efficiently when LTK63 and antigen are given intranasally. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that LTK63 can be used as a mucosal adjuvant to induce antigen-specific antibodies in vaginal secretions and show that the intranasal route of immunization is the most effective for this purpose.
PMCID: PMC173865  PMID: 8641809
25.  Analysis of Vaginal Cell Populations during Experimental Vaginal Candidiasis 
Infection and Immunity  1999;67(6):3135-3140.
Studies with an estrogen-dependent murine model of vaginal candidiasis suggest that local cell-mediated immunity (CMI) is more important than systemic CMI for protection against vaginitis. The present study, however, showed that, compared to uninfected mice, little to no change in the percentage or types of vaginal T cells occurred during a primary vaginal infection or during a secondary vaginal infection where partial protection was observed. Furthermore, depletion of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN) had no effect on infection in the presence or absence of pseudoestrus. These results indicate a lack of demonstrable effects by systemic CMI or PMN against vaginitis and suggest that if local T cells are important, they are functioning without showing significant increases in numbers within the vaginal mucosa during infection.
PMCID: PMC96633  PMID: 10338532

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