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1.  Inhibition of HIV transmission in human cervicovaginal explants and humanized mice using CD4 aptamer-siRNA chimeras 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(6):2401-2412.
The continued spread of the HIV epidemic underscores the need to interrupt transmission. One attractive strategy is a topical vaginal microbicide. Sexual transmission of herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) in mice can be inhibited by intravaginal siRNA application. To overcome the challenges of knocking down gene expression in immune cells susceptible to HIV infection, we used chimeric RNAs composed of an aptamer fused to an siRNA for targeted gene knockdown in cells bearing an aptamer-binding receptor. Here, we showed that CD4 aptamer-siRNA chimeras (CD4-AsiCs) specifically suppress gene expression in CD4+ T cells and macrophages in vitro, in polarized cervicovaginal tissue explants, and in the female genital tract of humanized mice. CD4-AsiCs do not activate lymphocytes or stimulate innate immunity. CD4-AsiCs that knock down HIV genes and/or CCR5 inhibited HIV infection in vitro and in tissue explants. When applied intravaginally to humanized mice, CD4-AsiCs protected against HIV vaginal transmission. Thus, CD4-AsiCs could be used as the active ingredient of a microbicide to prevent HIV sexual transmission.
PMCID: PMC3104760  PMID: 21576818
2.  Structural details and composition of Trichomonas vaginalis lipophosphoglycan in relevance to the epithelial immune function 
Glycoconjugate journal  2008;26(1):3-17.
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.
PMCID: PMC2637367  PMID: 18604640
Trichomonad LPG; Mass spectrometry; Cytokines; NF-κB; ERK; Vaginal mucosal immunity
3.  Biocompatibility of Solid-Dosage Forms of Anti-Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Microbicides with the Human Cervicovaginal Mucosa Modeled Ex Vivo▿  
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2006;50(12):4005-4010.
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.
PMCID: PMC1693981  PMID: 17030562
4.  Trichomonas vaginalis Lipophosphoglycan Triggers a Selective Upregulation of Cytokines by Human Female Reproductive Tract Epithelial Cells  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(10):5773-5779.
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.
PMCID: PMC1594934  PMID: 16988255

Results 1-4 (4)