Vaginal microbiome-hormonal contraceptive interactions associate with the mucosal proteome and HIV acquisition

Academic Article


  • Alterations to the mucosal environment of the female genital tract, such as genital inflammation, have been associated with increased HIV acquisition in women. As the microbiome and hormonal contraceptives can affect vaginal mucosal immunity, we hypothesized these components may interact in the context of HIV susceptibility. Using previously published microbiome data from 685 women in the CAPRISA-004 trial, we compared relative risk of HIV acquisition in this cohort who were using injectable depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN), and combined oral contraceptives (COC). In women who were Lactobacillus-dominant, HIV acquisition was 3-fold higher in women using DMPA relative to women using NET-EN or COC (OR: 3.27; 95% CI: 1.24–11.24, P = 0.0305). This was not observed in non-Lactobacillus-dominant women (OR: 0.95, 95% CI: 0.44–2.15, P = 0.895) (interaction P = 0.0686). Higher serum MPA levels associated with increased molecular pathways of inflammation in the vaginal mucosal of Lactobacillus-dominant women, but no differences were seen in non-Lactobacillus dominant women. This study provides data suggesting an interaction between the microbiome, hormonal contraceptives, and HIV susceptibility.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • PLoS Pathogens  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Noël-Romas L; Perner M; Molatlhegi R; Zuend CF; Mabhula A; Hoger S; Lamont A; Birse K; Berard A; McCorrister S
  • Volume

  • 16
  • Issue

  • 12