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J Hum Virol. 1999 May-Jun;2(3):154-66.

Analysis of HIV-1 in the cervicovaginal secretions and blood of pregnant and nonpregnant women.

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  • 1The Dorrance H. Hamilton Laboratories, Center for Human Virology, Department of Medicine, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107, USA.



To detect HIV-1 in cellular and acellular fractions of cervicovaginal secretions obtained by cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) and evaluate viral genotypes in the HIV-1-positive CVL samples.


This study consists of 37 HIV-1-seropositive pregnant and nonpregnant women from the United States. A total of 63 paired CVL and blood samples were collected. HIV-1 DNA from cervical cells (CC) and virion RNA from cervical supernatant (CS) was detected by gag polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays. The HIV-1 genotypes were determined by analyzing the nested PCR-amplified V3 region sequences of the HIV-1 gp120 envelope gene.


Within this cohort, 95% of the women were on single or combination antiretroviral therapy. Of the pregnant women, 63% of samples had HIV-1 viral DNA in the CC, and 29% of samples were positive for viral RNA in the CS. Among nonpregnant women, 71% of samples were positive for HIV-1 DNA in CC, and 46% of samples tested positive for virion RNA in CS. Plasma viral load ranged between 10,000 and 100,000 copies/mL and showed significant correlation with the detection of HIV-1 RNA in the CVL; this relation was less apparent with viral DNA in CC. The viral blood and CVL specimens were further analyzed by evaluating the genotypes of HIV-1 variants. In most patients, a high degree of similarity was observed between the viral sequences derived from blood and CVL samples. Two patients demonstrated closely related but somewhat distinct genotypic variants in CVL and blood. One subject showed clear compartmentalization in which distinct viral genotypes were observed in CVL and blood. Based on V3 loop analyses of gp120, with one exception, the cervicovaginal secretions harbored viral populations with a macrophage (CCR5)-tropic phenotype.


This study demonstrates the unique characteris tics of HIV-1 strains in the genital secretions of a relatively large cohort of HIV-1-infected women in the United States. These results are important for further analysis of HIV-1 transmission and pathogenesis in vivo and for rational vaccine design.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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