Soluble Immune Mediators and Vaginal Bacteria Impact Innate Genital Mucosal Antimicrobial Activity in Young Women

Academic Article


  • Introduction: Innate activity against Escherichia coli in female genital secretions may represent contributions from vaginal bacteria and host soluble immune mediators. We analyzed the relationship between E. coli inhibitory activity, soluble immune mediators, and vaginal bacteria in participants in MTN-004, a placebo-controlled trial of VivaGel®, a candidate product for topical HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis. Methods: Escherichia coli inhibitory activity was quantified by colony reduction assay. Endocervical concentrations of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-12p40, macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1α, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), lactoferrin, and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) were quantified to generate a cumulative mediator score. Vaginal bacteria were characterized by quantitative cultures. Results: In the two placebo arms, higher soluble immune mediator score was associated with greater E. coli inhibitory activity (β = 17.49, 95% CI [12.77, 22.21] and β = 13.28, 95% CI [4.76, 21.80]). However, in the VivaGel arm, higher concentrations of E. coli (β = -3.80, 95% CI [-6.36, -1.25]) and group B Streptococcus (β = -3.91, 95% CI [-6.21, -1.60]) were associated with reduced E. coli inhibitory activity. Conclusions: Both host mediators and vaginal bacteria impact E. coli inhibition in genital secretions. The relative contributions of host mediators and bacteria varied between women who used VivaGel vs placebos.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Pellett Madan R; Dezzutti CS; Rabe L; Hillier SL; Marrazzo J; Mcgowan I; Richardson BA; Herold BC
  • Start Page

  • 323
  • End Page

  • 332
  • Volume

  • 74
  • Issue

  • 4