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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1999 Mar;180(3 Pt 1):524-9.

Vaginal heat shock protein expression in symptom-free women with a history of recurrent vulvovaginitis.

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  • 1Division of Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Cornell University Medical College, New York, New York 10021, USA.



The cause of recurrent vulvovaginitis remains unexplained in most cases. Heat shock protein synthesis is induced under conditions of stress; its presence in vaginal samples from women who were between episodes of recurrent vulvovaginitis thus might reflect a persistent perturbation in the local milieu.


We undertook an evaluation by means of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay of 60-kd heat shock protein and inducible 70-kd heat shock protein expressions in vaginal wash samples from 24 symptom-free women with a history of recurrent vulvovaginitis and 19 matched control subjects. The samples were also tested for Candida albicans, Chlamydia trachomatis, Ureaplasma urealyticum, Mycoplasma hominis, and human papillomavirus by polymerase chain reaction; for bacterial vaginosis by clinical and microbiologic evaluation; and for interleukin 10, interleukin 1, interleukin 8, RANTES, and eotaxin by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


The presence of 60-kd heat shock protein was detected in 11 women with recurrent vulvovaginitis (45.8%) and 1 control subject (5.3%, P =.005). Similarly, 70-kd heat shock protein was present in 8 patients with recurrent vulvovaginitis (33.3%) and no control subjects (P =.005). The presence of 60-kd heat shock protein and the presence of 70-kd heat shock protein were correlated with each other (P =.02), as were both 60-kd heat shock protein (P =.006) and 70-kd heat shock protein (P =.01) correlated with IL-10. There was no relation between the presence of 60-kd heat shock protein or 70-kd heat shock protein and detection of IL-1, IL-8, or any microorganism.


The expression of heat shock proteins and IL-10 in the vaginas of women with a history of recurrent vulvovaginitis but not in the vaginas of control subjects suggests the existence of differences in the vaginal milieu between the 2 groups, even when both are without vaginal symptoms.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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