This article discusses cytokine patterns as potential biomarkers of vaginal inflammation, which are needed for the safety evaluation of topical microbicide products for the prevention of sexually transmitted HIV-1 infection. In order to be effective, the vaginal anti-HIV-1 microbicides should avoid proinflammatory responses that facilitate transepithelial viral penetration and replication. Pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines play bi-directional roles in HIV-1 pathogenesis, transmission, susceptibility and resistance. Previous research has shown that many of these key mediators of mucosal barrier function (e.g. IL-1, IL-1 receptor antagonist, IL-6, TNF-α, TNF-receptor II, transforming growth factor β, IL-10, IL-12, IL-8, macrophage inhibitory protein 1, etc.) can be detected in the vaginal secretions of healthy or infected individuals using non-invasive sampling techniques. As part of two microbicide trials, we measured IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-1 receptor antagonist, TNF-α and IL-8 in 291 cervicovaginal lavage samples obtained before product use and at the seventh and 14th day after product use. We showed that vaginal formulations, temperature and matrix-specific factors in the vaginal fluids may interfere with cytokine detection, and therefore specific protocols must be validated for various collection procedures and cytokine assays. Our results suggest that combined patterns of cytokine dynamics rather than individual measurements might distinguish proinflammatory product-related effects in microbicide safety trials. More research is needed to establish cytokine mucosal baselines and modulation by genetic factors, sexual intercourse, menstrual cycle, exercise, hormones, stress and infections before guidelines can be established for clinical trial enrollment criteria, the prediction of side/adverse events and ultimately microbicide benefit prognostication.
Cervicovaginal lavage; cytokines; HIV-1; inflammation; microbicides; safety evaluation
We sought to disentangle the contributions of perinatal systemic inflammation and small for gestational age (SGA) to the occurrence of low Bayley Mental Development Indices (MDIs) at age 2 years.
We measured the concentration of 25 inflammation-related proteins in blood obtained during the first 2 postnatal weeks from 805 infants who were born before the 28th week of gestation and who had MDI measurements at age 2 years and were able to walk independently.
SGA newborns who did not have systemic inflammation (a concentration of an inflammation-related protein in the top quartile for gestational age on 2 days a week apart) were at greater risk of an MDI < 55, but not 55–69, than their peers who had neither SGA nor systemic inflammation. SGA infants who had elevated blood concentrations of IL-1beta, TNF-alpha, or IL-8 during the first two postnatal weeks were at even higher risk of an MDI < 55 than their SGA peers without systemic inflammation and of their non-SGA peers with systemic inflammation.
SGA appears to place very preterm newborns at increased risk of a very low MDI. Systemic inflammation adds considerably to the increased risk.
The family Totiviridae includes a number of viruses with monosegmented dsRNA genomes and isometric virions that infect either fungi or a number of medically important protozoan parasites such as Leishmania and Giardia. A new genus, Trichomonasvirus, was recently proposed for this family. Its name is based on the genus of its host organism, Trichomonas vaginalis, a protozoan parasite that colonizes the human genitourinary mucosa and is the most common non-viral sexually transmitted infection in the world. The type species of this new genus is Trichomonas vaginalis virus 1. Distinguishing characteristics of the new genus include infection of a human sexually transmitted parasite, stable mixed infection with more than one distinct Trichomonasvirus species, and sequence-based phylogenetic divergence that distinguishes it from all other family members.
The flagellated protozoan Trichomonas vaginalis is an obligate human genitourinary parasite and the most frequent cause of sexually transmitted disease worldwide. Most clinical isolates of T. vaginalis are persistently infected with one or more double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses from the genus Trichomonasvirus, family Totiviridae, which appear to influence not only protozoan biology but also human disease. Here we describe the three-dimensional structure of Trichomonas vaginalis virus 1 (TVV1) virions, as determined by electron cryomicroscopy and icosahedral image reconstruction. The structure reveals a T = 1 capsid comprising 120 subunits, 60 in each of two nonequivalent positions, designated A and B, as previously observed for fungal Totiviridae family members. The putative protomer is identified as an asymmetric AB dimer consistent with either decamer or tetramer assembly intermediates. The capsid surface is notable for raised plateaus around the icosahedral 5-fold axes, with canyons connecting the 2- and 3-fold axes. Capsid-spanning channels at the 5-fold axes are unusually wide and may facilitate release of the viral genome, promoting dsRNA-dependent immunoinflammatory responses, as recently shown upon the exposure of human cervicovaginal epithelial cells to either TVV-infected T. vaginalis or purified TVV1 virions. Despite extensive sequence divergence, conservative features of the capsid reveal a helix-rich fold probably derived from an ancestor shared with fungal Totiviridae family members. Also notable are mass spectrometry results assessing the virion proteins as a complement to structure determination, which suggest that translation of the TVV1 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase in fusion with its capsid protein involves −2, and not +1, ribosomal frameshifting, an uncommonly found mechanism to date.
Trichomonas vaginalis causes ~250 million new cases of sexually transmitted disease each year worldwide and is associated with serious complications, including premature birth and increased transmission of other pathogens, including HIV. It is an extracellular parasite that, in turn, commonly hosts infections with double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses, trichomonasviruses, which appear to exacerbate disease through signaling of immunoinflammatory responses by human epithelial cells. Here we report the first three-dimensional structure of a trichomonasvirus, which is also the first such structure of any protozoan dsRNA virus; show that it has unusually wide channels at the capsid vertices, with potential for releasing the viral genome and promoting dsRNA-dependent responses by human cells; and provide evidence that it uses −2 ribosomal frameshifting, an uncommon mechanism, to translate its RNA polymerase in fusion with its capsid protein. These findings provide both mechanistic and translational insights concerning the role of trichomonasviruses in aggravating disease attributable to T. vaginalis.
To compare the frequency of elevated concentrations of inflammation-related proteins in the blood of infants born before the 28th week of gestation who had documented bacteremia to those who had presumed (antibiotic-treated but culture-negative) bacteremia to those who neither.
The subjects of this study are the 868 infants born at 14 institutions for whom information about protein measurements on at least two of the three protocol days (days 1, 7, and 14) was available and who did not have Bell stage 3 necrotizing enterocolitis or isolated bowel perforation, which were strongly associated with bacteremia in this sample.
Newborns with presumed early (week 1) bacteremia had elevated concentrations of only a few inflammation-related proteins, while those who had presumed late (weeks 2–4) bacteremia did not have any elevations. In contrast, newborns who had documented early bacteremia had a moderately strong signal, while those who had documented late bacteremia had a stronger signal with more protein concentrations elevated on two separate occasions a week apart.
Culture-confirmed early and late bacteremia are accompanied/followed by systemic inflammatory responses not seen with presumed early and late bacteremia.
bacteremia; infant; premature; blood proteins
Over-the-counter (OTC) feminine hygiene products come with little warning about possible side effects. This study evaluates in-vitro their effects on Lactobacillus crispatus, which is dominant in the normal vaginal microbiota and helps maintain a healthy mucosal barrier essential for normal reproductive function and prevention of sexually transmitted infections and gynecologic cancer.
A feminine moisturizer (Vagisil), personal lubricant, and douche were purchased OTC. A topical spermicide (nonoxynol-9) known to alter the vaginal immune barrier was used as a control. L. crispatus was incubated with each product for 2 and 24h and then seeded on agar for colony forming units (CFU). Human vaginal epithelial cells were exposed to products in the presence or absence of L. crispatus for 24h, followed by epithelium-associated CFU enumeration. Interleukin-8 was immunoassayed and ANOVA was used for statistical evaluation.
Nonoxynol-9 and Vagisil suppressed Lactobacillus growth at 2h and killed all bacteria at 24h. The lubricant decreased bacterial growth insignificantly at 2h but killed all at 24h. The douche did not have a significant effect. At full strength, all products suppressed epithelial viability and all, except the douche, suppressed epithelial-associated CFU. When applied at non-toxic dose in the absence of bacteria, the douche and moisturizer induced an increase of IL-8, suggesting a potential to initiate inflammatory reaction. In the presence of L. crispatus, the proinflammatory effects of the douche and moisturizer were countered, and IL-8 production was inhibited in the presence of the other products.
Some OTC vaginal products may be harmful to L. crispatus and alter the vaginal immune environment. Illustrated through these results, L. crispatus is essential in the preservation of the function of vaginal epithelial cells in the presence of some feminine hygiene products. More research should be invested toward these products before they are placed on the market.
Lactobacillus; L. crispatus; cytokines; Interleukin-8; Nonoxynol-9; vaginal microbiota; vaginal epithelial colonization; mucosal immunity
Vaginal probiotics are investigated as a binary strategy for prevention of bacterial vaginosis and HIV. We applied an innovative experimental model using primary and immortalized human cervical and vaginal epithelial cells to assess the functional properties of Lactobacillus jensenii, a predominant constituent of the healthy vaginal microbiome, engineered to express the HIV-1 entry inhibitor modified cyanovirin-N (mCV-N). In this model bacteria colonize the epithelial cells over a period of 24-72 h. Staurosporine and the Toll-like receptor 2/6 ligand macrophage-activating lipopeptide-2 (MALP-2) serve as positive controls for apoptosis and proinflammatory activation, respectively. In 24-hour intervals, the colonized epithelium is assessed microscopically, supernatants are collected for measurement of soluble immunoinflammatory mediators and production of CV-N, and cells are lysed for assessment of: 1) apoptosis by cleaved versus total caspase-3 assay; 2) NF-κB activation by a luciferase reporter assay; or 3) epithelia-associated colony forming units (CFU) in Brucella agar.
Wild type (WT) L. jensenii 1153 consistently colonized cervical and vaginal cells in the absence of epithelial damage and apoptosis. The bioengineered derivatives expressing mCV-N or control plasmids showed the same stable colonization pattern, which was reproducible between technologists and bacterial batches (CFU coefficient of variation <10% within and between experiments and epithelial cell types). MALP-2 activated NF-κB and caused fold-increased levels of proinflammatory mediators with clinically established significance in the cervicovaginal environment (IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, IL-8, RANTES, MIP-3α, and ICAM-1), measured by a multiplex electrochemiluminescence assay. At the same time levels of protective anti-inflammatory mediators interleukin 1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA) and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), both measured by ELISA, remained constant (IL-1RA) or moderately increased (SLPI). Similarly to MALP-2, colonization by L. jensenii WT activated NF-κB; however, unlike the synthetic TLR2/6 ligand, the live microorganisms did not induce significant changes in the secreted levels across all inflammation-associated proteins. The mCV-N production and function were confirmed by western blot and a HIV-1 gp120 binding assay, respectively. The bioengineered lactobacilli expressed mCV-N with anti-HIV activity preserved in the epithelial cell context and caused no significant immunoinflammatory changes as compared to the WT L. jensenii.
These results highlight the translational value of the colonization model and justify further clinical investigation of the homeostatic and anti-HIV effectiveness of the L. jensenii derivates.
Inflammation appears to be involved in processes leading to organ damage in preterm newborns, yet little is known about the relationships among elevated concentrations of inflammation-associated proteins in the blood of preterm newborns.
In this exploratory study, we used an electrochemiluminescence method to measure 25 proteins in blood obtained on postnatal day 1 (range 1–3), day 7 (range 5–8), and day 14 (range 12–15) from 939 children born before the 28th week of gestation and evaluated to what extent those whose concentration of each protein was elevated (defined as in the highest quartile for gestational age and day the specimen was obtained) also had an elevated concentration of every other protein the same day or on a day 1 or 2 weeks later (p < .0001).
On each of the 3 days assessed, elevated concentrations of 17 proteins were associated with elevated concentrations of 15 or more of the other 24 proteins. VEGF, VEGF-R1, VEGF-R2 were among these proteins, while IGFBP-1 was associated with 13 other proteins on day 7. An elevated concentration of 8 proteins on day 1 predicted an elevated concentration of 10 or more proteins on day 7, while an elevated concentration of only two proteins on day 7 were associated with elevated concentrations of 10 or more proteins on day-14. Few associations were seen between day 1 and day 14.
Inflammation is a diffuse process in ELGANs, with elevated concentrations of cytokines, chemokines, adhesion molecules, matrix metalloproteinases, a growth factor and its receptors, as well as a growth factor binding protein associated with each other the same day, as well as on subsequent days.
Preterm newborn; Inflammation; Biomarkers
Inflammation within the preterm placenta is common and leads to adverse outcomes for premature infants. The risks of complications are different between iatrogenic (e.g. preeclampsia) and spontaneous (e.g. preterm labor and membrane rapture) causes of preterm delivery, suggesting different underlying biology contributes to these placental conditions.
Method of Study
Thirty preterm singleton placentas from the following groups were analyzed: 1) severe preeclampsia (PE), 2) preterm premature membrane rupture (pPROM) and 3) preterm labor (PL). Proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines, adhesion and angiogenic molecules were measured in placental lysates using a multiplex assay. K-means cluster analysis was used to generate patterns of protein level intensity.
Three cluster patterns were apparent. Placentas from PE had high levels of VEGF combined with low levels of acute inflammatory proteins (IL-1β, IL-18, IL-6, TNF-α), low IL-1 RA and high TGF-β. PL and pPROM had higher anti-inflammatory IL-1 RA and thrombomodulin combined with lower VEGF, regardless of proinflammatory cytokines and adhesion molecules. Half of the PL and pPROM cases had clusters of heightened inflammatory responses (lower TGF-β clustered with higher intensity of inflammatory mediators).
Discriminating protein patterns were elucidated and may serve as a foundation from which to understand the biological mechanisms underlying these pregnancy complications.
inflammation; placenta; preterm labor; preterm premature membrane rupture; preterm delivery
Wide-spread protozoan parasites carry endosymbiotic dsRNA viruses with uncharted implications to the human host. Among them, Trichomonas vaginalis, a parasite adapted to the human genitourinary tract, infects globally ∼250 million each year rendering them more susceptible to devastating pregnancy complications (especially preterm birth), HIV infection and HPV-related cancer. While first-line antibiotic treatment (metronidazole) commonly kills the protozoan pathogen, it fails to improve reproductive outcome. We show that endosymbiotic Trichomonasvirus, highly prevalent in T. vaginalis clinical isolates, is sensed by the human epithelial cells via Toll-like receptor 3, triggering Interferon Regulating Factor -3, interferon type I and proinflammatory cascades previously implicated in preterm birth and HIV-1 susceptibility. Metronidazole treatment amplified these proinflammatory responses. Thus, a new paradigm targeting the protozoan viruses along with the protozoan host may prevent trichomoniasis-attributable inflammatory sequelae.
High concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines have been previously observed in the genital fluids of women enrolled in microbicide trials and may explain observed increased HIV transmission in some of these trials. Although the longitudinal nature of these studies allows within-subject comparisons of post-product levels to baseline levels, the fact that the physiologic variations of these cytokines and other markers of immune activation are not fully defined in different populations, makes it difficult to assess changes that can be directly attributed to microbicide use as opposed to other biological and behavioural factors.
Cervicovaginal lavage samples were collected from 30 healthy Caucasian and assayed for concentrations of ten cytokines/chemokines, total protein content and two antimicrobial proteins using a multiplex immunoassay and ELISA. Cellular markers were characterized by flow cytometry on mononuclear cells collected from the endocervix using flocked swabs. Bacterial quantification was performed using quantitative PCR.
Ectopy, menstrual cycle phase, prostate-specific antigen and presence of leucocytes in endocervical cells' supernatant were associated with the concentrations of cyto-/chemokines in cervicovaginal secretions. Approximately 3% of endocervical cells collected were monocytes of which a median of 52% (SD = 17) expressed both CD4 and CCR5 markers. Approximately 1% of the total cells were T-cells with a median of 61% (SD = 10) CD4 and CCR5 expression. Around 5% of the monocytes and 16% of the T-cells expressed the immune activation marker HLA-DR. Higher percentages of T-cells were associated with greater quantities of IL-1RA, GM-CSF and elafin.
We demonstrate the presence of selected soluble and cellular immune activation markers and identify their predictors in the female genital tract of healthy women. Future clinical trials should consider ectopy, sexual activity, menstrual cycle phase and presence of bacterial species as possible confounders when evaluating the possible inflammatory effects of microbicide compounds.
Amniotic fluid infection with chorioamnionitis is associated with increased risks of morbidity and mortality in children born prematurely. These risks depend on the presence of a fetal inflammatory response. We measured the concentrations of 25 proteins in the blood of 871 infants born before the 28th week of gestation, and examined their placentas for acute inflammation. Newborns who had inflammatory lesions of the placenta were much more likely than their peers (p<0.01) to have elevated blood concentrations of cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-alpha), chemokines (IL-8, MIP-1β, RANTES, I-TAC), adhesion molecules (ICAM-1, ICAM-3, E-selectin), matrix metalloproteinases (MMP1, MMP -9), the angiogenic inflammatory factor VEGF and its receptor VEGF-R2 as well as acute phase proteins (SAA and CRP) during first three days after birth. In contrast, newborns with poor placental perfusion had lower levels of inflammatory proteins (p<0.01, IL-6, RANTES, ICAM-1, ICAM-3, VCAM-1, E-selectin, MMP-1, MMP-9, MPO, VEGF). An inverse pattern was found between newborn levels of VEGF and its competitive inhibitor VEGF-R1 in both the inflamed and poorly perfused placenta categories. These results confirm the predictive value of placental histology for the presence or absence of elevated inflammatory response in the newborn.
Trichomonas vaginalis, which causes the most common nonviral sexually transmitted disease worldwide, is itself commonly infected by nonsegmented double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses from the genus Trichomonasvirus, family Totiviridae. To date, cDNA sequences of one or more strains of each of three trichomonasvirus species have been reported, and gel electrophoresis showing several different dsRNA molecules obtained from a few T. vaginalis isolates has suggested that more than one virus strain might concurrently infect the same parasite cell. Here, we report the complete cDNA sequences of 3 trichomonasvirus strains, one from each of the 3 known species, infecting a single, agar-cloned clinical isolate of T. vaginalis, confirming the natural capacity for concurrent (in this case, triple) infections in this system. We furthermore report the complete cDNA sequences of 11 additional trichomonasvirus strains, from 4 other clinical isolates of T. vaginalis. These additional strains represent the three known trichomonasvirus species, as well as a newly identified fourth species. Moreover, 2 of these other T. vaginalis isolates are concurrently infected by strains of all 4 trichomonasvirus species (i.e., quadruple infections). In sum, the full-length cDNA sequences of these 14 new trichomonasviruses greatly expand the existing data set for members of this genus and substantiate our understanding of their genome organizations, protein-coding and replication signals, diversity, and phylogenetics. The complexity of this virus-host system is greater than has been previously well recognized and suggests a number of important questions relating to the pathogenesis and disease outcomes of T. vaginalis infections of the human genital mucosa.
Several broad-spectrum microbicides, including cellulose sulfate (CS), have passed conventional preclinical and phase I clinical safety evaluation and yet have failed to protect women from acquiring HIV-1 in phase II/III trials. Concerns have been raised that current preclinical algorithms are deficient in addressing the complexity of the microflora-regulated vaginal mucosal barrier. We applied a novel microflora-colonized model to evaluate CS and hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC), which is used as a “universal placebo” in microbicide trials. Cervicovaginal epithelial cultures were colonized with normal vaginal microflora isolates representing common Lactobacillus species used as probiotics (L. acidophilus and L. crispatus) or Prevotella bivia and Atopobium vaginae, most prevalent in the disturbed microflora of bacterial vaginosis (BV). At baseline, all strains maintained constant epithelium-associated CFUs without inducing cytotoxicity and apoptosis. CS selectively reduced epithelium-associated CFUs and (to a lesser extent) planktonic CFUs, most significantly affecting L. crispatus. Inducing only minor changes in sterile epithelial cultures, CS induced expression of innate immunity mediators (RANTES, interleukin-8 [IL-8], and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor [SLPI]) in microflora-colonized epithelia, most significantly potentiating effects of bacteria causing BV. In the absence of CS, all bacterial strains except L. acidophilus activated NF-κB, although IL-8 and RANTES levels were increased by the presence of BV-causing bacteria only. CS enhanced NF-κB activation in a dose-dependent manner under all conditions, including L. acidophilus colonization. HEC remained inert. These results offer insights into possible mechanisms of CS clinical failure. The bacterially colonized cervicovaginal model reveals unique aspects of microflora-epithelium-drug interactions and innate immunity in the female genital tract and should become an integral part of preclinical safety evaluation of anti-HIV microbicides and other vaginal formulations.
This report provides experimental evidence supporting the concept that the vaginal microflora regulates the epithelial innate immunity in a species- and strain-specific manner and that topically applied microbicides may alter both the bacterial and epithelial components of this homeostatic interaction. Our data also highlight the importance of differentiating the effects of biomedical interventions on epithelium-associated versus conventional planktonic bacterial growth when assessing vaginal mucosal health and immunity.
The fetal response to intrauterine inflammatory stimuli appears to contribute to the onset of preterm labor as well as fetal injury, especially affecting newborns of extremely low gestational age. To investigate the role of placental colonization by specific groups of microorganisms in the development of inflammatory responses present at birth, we analyzed 25 protein biomarkers in dry blood spots obtained from 527 newborns delivered by Caesarean section in the 23rd to 27th gestation weeks. Bacteria were detected in placentas and characterized by culture techniques. Odds ratios for having protein concentrations in the top quartile for gestation age for individual and groups of microorganisms were calculated. Mixed bacterial vaginosis (BV) organisms were associated with a proinflammatory pattern similar to those of infectious facultative anaerobes. Prevotella and Gardnerella species, anaerobic streptococci, peptostreptococci, and genital mycoplasmas each appeared to be associated with a different pattern of elevated blood levels of inflammation-related proteins. Lactobacillus was associated with low odds of an inflammatory response. This study provides evidence that microorganisms colonizing the placenta provoke distinctive newborn inflammatory responses and that Lactobacillus may suppress these responses.
Despite improved intensive care, preterm and especially extremely low-gestation-age neonates continue to be at a considerably increased risk of morbidity, mortality, and developmental problems. The fetal inflammatory response appears to contribute to the onset of preterm labor, fetal injury, and complications, underlying lifetime health challenges facing these children. This study provides evidence that bacterial colonization of the very preterm placenta is associated with distinct microorganism-specific inflammatory protein profiles in the newborn blood specimens. We also provide evidence that Lactobacillus reduces inflammatory responses in newborns. Our data support the concept that targeting of placental colonization by specific drugs or probiotics during early pregnancy holds promise for preventing not only preterm birth but also subsequent and long-lasting, inflammation-provoked late sequelae.
Trichomonas vaginalis is the most common non-viral sexually transmitted pathogen. The infection is prevalent in reproductive age women and is associated with vaginitis, endometritis, adnexitis, pyosalpinx, infertility, preterm birth, low birth weight, bacterial vaginosis, and increased risk of cervical cancer, HPV, and HIV infection. In men, its complications include urethritis, prostatitis, epididymitis, and infertility through inflammatory damage or interference with the sperm function. The infection is often asymptomatic and recurrent despite the presence of specific antibodies, suggesting the importance of the innate immune defense. T. vaginalis adhesion proteins, cysteine proteases, and the major parasite lipophosphoglycan (LPG) play distinct roles in the pathogenesis and evasion of host immunity. LPG plays a key role in the parasite adherence and signaling to human vaginal and cervical epithelial cells, which is at least in part mediated by galectins. The epithelial cells respond to T. vaginalis infection and purified LPG by selective upregulation of proinflammatory mediators. At the same time, T. vaginalis triggers an immunosuppressive response in monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. The molecular mechanisms underlying reproductive complications and epidemiologic risks associated with T. vaginalis infection remain to be elucidated.
Trichomonas vaginalis; lipophosphoglycan; cytokines; galectins; human vaginal epithelial cells
The increase of proinflammatory cytokines in vaginal secretions may serve as a surrogate marker of unwanted inflammatory reaction to microbicide products topically applied for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV-1. Interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-6 have been proposed as indicators of inflammation and increased risk of HIV-1 transmission; however, the lack of information regarding detection platforms optimal for vaginal fluids and interlaboratory variation limit their use for microbicide evaluation and other clinical applications. This study examines fluid matrix variants relevant to vaginal sampling techniques and proposes a model for interlaboratory comparisons across current cytokine detection technologies. IL-1β and IL-6 standards were measured by 12 laboratories in four countries, using 14 immunoassays and four detection platforms based on absorbance, chemiluminescence, electrochemiluminescence, and fluorescence. International reference preparations of cytokines with defined biological activity were spiked into (1) a defined medium simulating the composition of human vaginal fluid at pH 4.5 and 7.2, (2) physiologic salt solutions (phosphate-buffered saline and saline) commonly used for vaginal lavage sampling in clinical studies of cytokines, and (3) human blood serum. Assays were assessed for reproducibility, linearity, accuracy, and significantly detectable fold difference in cytokine level. Factors with significant impact on cytokine recovery were determined by Kruskal−Wallis analysis of variance with Dunn’s multiple comparison test and multiple regression models. All assays showed acceptable intra-assay reproducibility; however, most were associated with significant interlaboratory variation. The smallest reliably detectable cytokine differences (P < 0.05) derived from pooled interlaboratory data varied from 1.5- to 26-fold depending on assay, cytokine, and matrix type. IL-6 but not IL-1β determinations were lower in both saline and phosphate-buffered saline as compared to vaginal fluid matrix, with no significant effect of pH. The (electro)chemiluminescence-based assays were most discriminative and consistently detected <2-fold differences within each matrix type. The Luminex-based assays were less discriminative with lower reproducibility between laboratories. These results suggest the need for uniform vaginal sampling techniques and a better understanding of immunoassay platform differences and cross-validation before the biological significance of cytokine variations can be validated in clinical trials. This investigation provides the first standardized analytic approach for assessing differences in mucosal cytokine levels and may improve strategies for monitoring immune responses at the vaginal mucosal interface.
Topical anti-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) microbicides are being sought to reduce the spread of HIV type 1 (HIV-1) during sexual intercourse. The success of this strategy depends upon the selection of formulations compatible with the natural vaginal mucosal barrier. This study applied ex vivo-modeled human cervicovaginal epithelium to evaluate experimental solid-dosage forms of the anti-HIV-1 microbicide cellulose acetate 1,2-benzenedicarboxylate (CAP) and over-the-counter (OTC) vaginal products for their impact on inflammatory mediators regarded as potential HIV-1-enhancing risk factors. We assessed product-induced imbalances between interleukin-1α (IL-1α) and IL-1β and the natural IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA) and changes in levels of IL-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha, IL-8, gamma interferon inducible protein 10 (IP-10), and macrophage inflammatory protein 3α (MIP-3α), known to recruit and activate monocytes, dendritic cells, and T cells to the inflamed mucosa. CAP film and gel formulation, similarly to the hydroxyethylcellulose universal vaginal placebo gel and the OTC K-Y moisturizing gel, were nontoxic and caused no significant changes in any inflammatory biomarker. In contrast, OTC vaginal cleansing and contraceptive films containing octoxynol-9 or nonoxynol-9 (N-9) demonstrated similar levels of toxicity but distinct immunoinflammatory profiles. IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-8, and IP-10 were increased after treatment with both OTC vaginal cleansing and contraceptive films; however, MIP-3α was significantly elevated by the N-9-based film only (P < 0.01). Although both films increased extracellular IL-1RA, the cleansing film only significantly elevated the IL-1RA/IL-1 ratio (P < 0.001). The N-9-based film decreased intracellular IL-1RA (P < 0.05), which has anti-inflammatory intracrine functions. This study identifies immunoinflammatory biomarkers that can discriminate between formulations better than toxicity assays and should be clinically validated in relevance to the risk of HIV-1 acquisition.
Trichomonas vaginalis is one of the most common nonviral sexually transmitted human infections and, worldwide, has been linked to increased incidence of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transmission, preterm delivery, low birth weight, cervical cancer, and vaginitis. The molecular pathways that are important in initiating host inflammatory and immune responses to T. vaginalis are poorly understood. Here we report interactions of human cervicovaginal epithelial cells with the most abundant cell surface glycoconjugate of the parasite, the T. vaginalis lipophosphoglycan (LPG). Purified LPG mediated the adhesion of parasites to human vaginal epithelial cells in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, T. vaginalis LPG (but not LPG from Tritrichomonas foetus, the causative agent of bovine trichomoniasis) induced a selective upregulation of chemotactic cytokines by human endocervical, ectocervical, and vaginal epithelial cells, which do not express Toll-like receptor 4/MD2. The T. vaginalis LPG triggered interleukin 8 (IL-8), which promotes the adhesion and transmigration of neutrophils across the endothelium, and macrophage inflammatory protein 3α, which is a chemoattractant for immune cells and is essential for dendritic cell maturation. These effects were dose dependent and sustained in the absence of cytotoxicity and IL-1β release and utilized, at least in part, a signaling pathway independent from the Toll-like/IL-1 receptor adaptor protein MyD88.
Complex interactions of vaginal microorganisms with the genital tract epithelium shape mucosal innate immunity, which holds the key to sexual and reproductive health. Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a microbiome-disturbance syndrome prevalent in reproductive-age women, occurs commonly in concert with trichomoniasis, and both are associated with increased risk of adverse reproductive outcomes and viral infections, largely attributable to inflammation. To investigate the causative relationships among inflammation, BV and trichomoniasis, we established a model of human cervicovaginal epithelial cells colonised by vaginal Lactobacillus isolates, dominant in healthy women, and common BV species (Atopobium vaginae, Gardnerella vaginalis and Prevotella bivia).
Colonised epithelia were infected with Trichomonas vaginalis (TV) or exposed to purified TV virulence factors (membrane lipophosphoglycan (LPG), its ceramide-phosphoinositol-glycan core (CPI-GC) or the endosymbiont Trichomonas vaginalis virus (TVV)), followed by assessment of bacterial colony-forming units, the mucosal anti-inflammatory microbicide secretory leucocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), and chemokines that drive pro-inflammatory, antigen-presenting and T cells.
TV reduced colonisation by Lactobacillus but not by BV species, which were found inside epithelial cells. TV increased interleukin (IL)-8 and suppressed SLPI, likely via LPG/CPI-GC, and upregulated IL-8 and RANTES, likely via TVV as suggested by use of purified pathogenic determinants. BV species A vaginae and G vaginalis induced IL-8 and RANTES, and also amplified the pro-inflammatory responses to both LPG/CPI-GC and TVV, whereas P bivia suppressed the TV/TVV-induced chemokines.
These molecular host–parasite–endosymbiont–bacteria interactions explain epidemiological associations and suggest a revised paradigm for restoring vaginal immunity and preventing BV/TV-attributable inflammatory sequelae in women.
TRICHOMONAS; VAGINAL MICROBIOLOGY; IMMUNOLOGY; BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS; WOMEN
Spontaneous term delivery involves activation of placental corticotropin-releasing hormone and the fetal adrenal axis, but the basis for extreme preterm delivery is unknown. Our objective was to determine whether placental corticotropin-releasing hormone is activated in extreme spontaneous preterm delivery.
1506 mothers delivering at less than 28 weeks gestation were enrolled. Each mother/infant pair was assigned to the category that described the primary reason for hospitalization. Observers who had no knowledge of patient categorization assessed placenta microbiology, histology, and CRH expression. These were correlated with the primary reason for hospitalization.
Among infants delivered at <28 weeks gestation, spontaneous (versus induced) delivery was associated with less placental corticotropin-releasing hormone expression and more frequent signs of placental inflammation and infection.
Inflammation and infection, rather than premature activation of the fetal adrenal axis, should be the major focus of research to prevent extremely preterm human birth.
preterm delivery; corticotropin-releasing hormone; inflammation
Epidemiologic studies found childhood mumps might protect against ovarian cancer. To explain this association, we investigated whether mumps might engender immunity to ovarian cancer through antibodies against the cancer-associated antigen MUC1 abnormally expressed in the inflamed parotid gland.
Through various health agencies, we obtained sera from 161 cases with mumps parotitis. Sera were obtained from 194 healthy controls. We used an ELISA to measure anti-MUC1 antibodies and electro-chemiluminescence assays to measure MUC1 and CA 125. Log-transformed measurements were analyzed by t-tests, generalized linear models, and Pearson or Spearman correlations. We also conducted a meta-analysis of all published studies regarding mumps and ovarian cancer.
Adjusting for assay batch, age, and sex, the level of anti-MUC1 antibodies was significantly higher in mumps cases compared to controls (p = 0.002). Free circulating levels of CA 125, but not MUC1, were also higher in cases (p = 0.02). From the meta-analysis, the pooled odds ratio estimate (and 95% CI) for the mumps and ovarian cancer association was 0.81 (0.68–0.96) (p = 0.01).
Mumps parotitis may lead to expression and immune recognition of a tumor-associated form of MUC1 and create effective immune surveillance of ovarian cancer cells that express this form of MUC1.
Ovarian cancer; Mumps parotitis; MUC1; CA125
Trichomonas vaginalis causes the most common non-viral sexually transmitted infection linked to increased risk of premature birth, cervical cancer and HIV. This study defines molecular domains of the parasite surface glycol-conjugate lipophosphoglycan (LPG) with distinct functions in the host immunoinflammatory response. The ceramide phospho-inositol glycan core (CPI-GC) released by mild acid had Mr of ~8,700 Da determined by MALDI-TOF MS. Rha, GlcN, Gal and Xyl and small amounts of GalN and Glc were found in CPI-GC. N-acetyllactosamine repeats were identified by endo-β-galactosidase treatment followed by MALDI-MS and MS/MS and capLC/ESI-MS/MS analyses. Mild acid hydrolysis led to products rich in internal deoxyhexose residues. The CPI-GC induced chemokine production, NF-κB and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 activation in human cervicovaginal epithelial cells, but neither the released saccharide components nor the lipid-devoid LPG showed these activities. These results suggest a dominant role for CPI-GC in the pathogenic epithelial response to trichomoniasis.
Trichomonad LPG; Mass spectrometry; Cytokines; NF-κB; ERK; Vaginal mucosal immunity