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1.  Value of Candida polymerase chain reaction and vaginal cytokine analysis for the differential diagnosis of women with recurrent vulvovaginitis. 
OBJECTIVES: Recurrent vulvovaginitis remains difficult to diagnose accurately and to treat. The present investigation evaluated the utility of testing vaginal specimens from women with symptomatic recurrent vulvovaginitis for Candida species by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and for cytokine responses. METHODS: Sixty-one consecutive symptomatic women with pruritus, erythema, and/or a thick white discharge and a history of recurrent vulvovaginitis and 31 asymptomatic women with no such history were studied. Vaginal swabs were tested for Candida species by PCR, for the antiinflammatory cytokine interleukin (IL)-10, and for the proinflammatory cytokine IL-12. RESULTS: C. albicans was detected in 19 (31.1%) of the patients as well as in three (9.7%) controls (P = 0.03). Both IL-10 (31.1% vs. 0%) and IL-12 (42.6% vs. 6.5%) were also more prevalent in the recurrent vulvovaginitis patients (P < 0.001). However, there was no relation between the presence or absence of Candida and either cytokine. Detection of IL-12 in 14 women indicated the stimulation of a vaginal cell-mediated immune response possibly from an infectious agent. The presence of only IL-10 in six patients indicated a suppression of vaginal cell-mediated immunity and was consistent with a possible allergic etiology. The absence of both IL-10 and IL-12 in other patients, similar to that found in healthy controls, suggested a noninfectious, nonallergic etiology of their symptoms. CONCLUSION: Many women with recurrent vulvovaginitis are not infected with Candida. Testing for Candida should be required in this population. Treatment with only anti-Candida medication will clearly be inadequate for the majority of women with this condition.
PMCID: PMC1784693  PMID: 11220486
2.  Heat shock proteins and heat shock protein-antibody complexes in placental tissues. 
OBJECTIVE: The relationship between pregnancy outcome and expression of the heat shock proteins (hsps) or hsp-antibody complexes of 60kD (hsp60), 70kD (hsp70), and 90kD (hsp90) in placental tissue and circulating antibodies to hsps was evaluated. METHOD: Expression of hsp60, hsp70, and hsp90 in placentae from 12 women with preterm birth, eight with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), and 10 with term birth, as well as the presence of the corresponding antibodies, was investigated by a new carbocyanine double fluorescence technique. Results were compared with microbiological findings and circulating antibodies to hsps in sera. RESULTS: In each placental specimen examined, hsp60, hsp70, and hsp90 were identified. However, hsp70-antibody complexes were detected in only four of the preterm labor cases. Similarly, hsp60-antibody complexes were detected in only five preterm labor patients and in one patient with IUGR. None of the placentae contained hsp90-antibody complexes. In the preterm birth group, all patients with hsp60-antibody complexes were also positive for circulating antibodies to hsp60. The presence of hsp70-antibody complexes also correlated with hsp70 antibody in sera. CONCLUSIONS: Formation of hsp60- and hsp70-antibody complexes in the placenta may contribute to the induction of preterm birth. Women sensitized to these antibodies may be at increased risk for adverse pregnancy outcome.
PMCID: PMC1784741  PMID: 10449265
3.  Circulating heat shock proteins in women with a history of recurrent vulvovaginitis. 
OBJECTIVE: Predisposing factors influencing recurrences of bacterial vaginosis (BV) or vaginitis from Candida remain unidentified for most women. As a component of studies to determine host susceptibility factors to genital tract infections in women, we measured expression of the 60-kDa and 70-kDa heat shock proteins (hsp60 and hsp70, respectively) in the circulation of women with or without a history of recurrent BV or candidal vaginitis and with or without a current lower genital tract infection. Heat shock protein expression is associated with a down-regulation of pro-inflammatory immune responses that would inhibit microbial infection. METHOD: The investigators measured hsp60 and hsp70, antibodies to these proteins, the pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), and the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) in sera by ELISA. The study population consisted of 100 women who attended a gynecology clinic in Campinas, Brazil. Of those, 55 had a history of recurrent vulvovaginitis (RV), while 45 were controls with no such history. Only women who were asymptomatic for at least 1 month were studied. RESULTS: Although all were asymptomatic, clinical and microbiological examination revealed that five of the women with a history of RV and two controls had a current candidal vaginal infection; 16 RV patients and 12 controls had BV; and six RV patients had both BV and candidiasis. Twenty-eight RV patients and 31 controls had no clinical or microbiological detectable vaginal infection. Among the RV patients, hsp60 and hsp70 were more prevalent in those with current BV (40.9% and 50.0%, respectively) or a candidal infection (45.5% and 54.5%) than in women with no current infection (21.4% and 17.9%). In the women with no history of RV, BV was not associated with a high prevalence of hsp60 (8.3%) or hsp70 (8.3%). Interleukin-10 and TNF were not more prevalent in vaginitis patients or controls with a current candidal infection or BV than in uninfected subjects. CONCLUSION: The high prevalence of circulating hsp60 and hsp70 in women with a history of RV and current BV or vaginal candidiasis, but not in women with no history of RV, suggests that differences in heat shock protein induction may be related to susceptibility to recurrent vaginal infections.
PMCID: PMC1784728  PMID: 10371470
4.  Detection of the human 70-kD and 60-kD heat shock proteins in the vagina: relation to microbial flora, vaginal pH, and method of contraception. 
The expression of the 60-kD and 70-kD heat shock proteins (hsp60 and hsp70) in the vaginas of 43 asymptomatic women of reproductive age with or without a history of recurrent vulvovaginitis (RVV) were compared. Vaginal wash samples were obtained and assayed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for human hsp60 and hsp70. Heat shock protein 70 was not detected in any of the 19 women with no history of RVV, and hsp60 was present in only one woman in this group. In contrast, in the RVV group, 11 (45.8%) were hsp60-positive and eight (33.3%) were hsp70-positive. The presence of either heat shock protein in the vagina was associated with an elevated vaginal pH (>4.5). Bacterial vaginosis or Candida was identified in some of the asymptomatic subjects; their occurrence was significantly higher in women with vaginal hsp70 than in women with no heat shock proteins. Oral contraceptives were used by 35.7% of subjects who were negative for vaginal heat shock proteins, as opposed to only 12.5% of women who were positive for hsp70 and 8.3% who were positive for hsp60. Expression of heat shock proteins in the vagina may indicate an altered vaginal environment and a susceptibility to vulvovaginal symptoms.
PMCID: PMC1784718  PMID: 10231004
5.  Induction of heat shock protein expression in cervical epithelial cells by human semen. 
OBJECTIVE: The 70kD heat shock protein (Hsp70), induced when cells are subjected to environmental stress, prevents the denaturation and incorrect folding of polypeptides and may expedite replication and transmission of DNA and RNA viruses. We analyzed whether messenger RNA (mRNA) for Hsp70 was expressed following exposure of a cultured human cervical cell line (HeLa cells) to human semen or in cervical cells from sexually active women. STUDY DESIGN: HeLa cells were co-cultured with a 1:50 dilution of semen from four men or with purified spermatozoa or cell-free seminal fluid. Endocervical swabs were acquired at mid-cycle from 53 women. Heat shock protein 70 mRNA was detected by a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction utilizing specific primer pairs and analysis on agarose gels. In cervical cells Hsp70 mRNA was measured identically followed by hybridization with an Hsp70-specific internal probe and detection by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Cervical immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies to the human Hsp70 were determined by ELISA. RESULTS: HeLa cell-semen co-culture resulted in the induction of Hsp70 mRNA. In addition, cell-free seminal plasma and motile sperm incubated individually with HeLa cells also induced this mRNA. Heat shock protein 70 mRNA was detected in 28 (52.8%) of 53 endocervical samples obtained from women at various time points following intercourse. The percentage of samples expressing this mRNA was 37.5% at less than 10 hours, 64.3% at 10 hours, 70% at 11 hours, and between 36% and 50% at later times after semen exposure. The detection of cervical IgA antibodies to the Hsp70 was highly associated with Hsp70 gene transcription. CONCLUSION: Human semen induces transcription of Hsp70 in cervical epithelial cells.
PMCID: PMC1784716  PMID: 10231003
6.  Heat shock protein expression during gametogenesis and embryogenesis. 
When cells are subjected to various stress factors, they increase the production of a group of proteins called heat shock proteins (hsp). Heat shock proteins are highly conserved proteins present in organisms ranging from bacteria to man. Heat shock proteins enable cells to survive adverse environmental conditions by preventing protein denaturation. Thus the physiological and pathological potential of hsps is enormous and has been studied widely over the past two decades. The presence or absence of hsps influences almost every aspect of reproduction. They are among the first proteins produced during mammalian embryo development. In this report, the production of hsps in gametogenesis and early embryo development is described. It has been suggested that prolonged and asymptomatic infections trigger immunity to microbial hsp epitopes that are also expressed in man. This may be relevant for human reproduction, since many couples with fertility problems have had a previous genital tract infection. Antibodies to bacterial and human hsps are present at high titers in sera of many patients undergoing in vitro fertilization. In a mouse embryo culture model, these antibodies impaired the mouse embryo development at unique developmental stages. The gross morphology of these embryos resembled cells undergoing apoptosis. The TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated X-dUTP nick end labeling) staining pattern, which is a common marker of apoptosis, revealed that embryos cultured in the presence of hsp antibodies stained TUNEL-positive more often than unexposed embryos. These data extend preexisting findings showing the detrimental effect of immune sensitization to hsps on embryo development.
PMCID: PMC1784712  PMID: 10231002
7.  Immunity to heat shock proteins and pregnancy outcome. 
Heat shock proteins are among the first proteins produced by the zygote after fertilization. In addition, the maternal decidua also expresses heat shock proteins during the early stages of pregnancy. Autoimmunity to heat shock proteins is not typically evident in healthy women of reproductive age. However, a chronic microbial infection, such as an asymptomatic Chlamydia trachomatis upper genital tract infection, results in prolonged exposure of the immune system to the microbial 60 kDa heat shock protein (hsp60). This may result in immunity to conserved hsp60 epitopes and subsequent autoimmunity to self hsp60. Women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) who never realized they had a chlamydial infection but who were positive for cervical antichlamydial immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies had a much lower pregnancy rate than did women who were negative for these antibodies. Furthermore, cervical IgA antibodies to the chlamydial hsp60, as well as to a synthetic peptide corresponding to an hsp60 epitope present in both the chlamydial and human hsp60, also correlated with IVF failure. In vitro incubation of newly fertilized human embryos in medium containing maternal serum was shown to be deleterious to embryo development if the sera was positive for antibodies reactive with human hsp60. In another study, the ability of human hsp60 to elicit a lymphocyte proliferative response (cell-mediated immunity) correlated with a history of spontaneous early stage pregnancy loss. Thus, autoimmunity to hsp60 might increase susceptibility to early stage pregnancy loss.
PMCID: PMC1784708  PMID: 10231007

Results 1-7 (7)