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Am J Reprod Immunol. 2007 May;57(5):367-77.

Differential responses of murine vaginal and uterine epithelial cells prior to and following herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection.

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Center For Gene Therapeutics, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Michael G. DeGroote Center for Learning and Discovery, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



This study was undertaken to evaluate the susceptibility of upper and lower reproductive tract epithelial cells (ECs) to herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection and examine their cytokine secretion patterns prior to and following infection.


Primary EC cultures, grown from murine vaginal and uterine tissue, were inoculated with HSV-2. Viral shedding was measured in apical and basolateral compartments. Multi-analyte bead-based immunoassays run on Luminex, were used to analyse cytokine profiles.


Both vaginal and uterine ECs became productively infected with HSV-2, ex-vivo. Uterine ECs displayed varying degrees of infection, dependent on transepithelial resistance of the monolayers. Co-culturing stromal cells did not significantly change levels of viral shedding from ECs. Uterine ECs and epithelial-stromal co-cultures constitutively secreted interleukin (IL)-1alpha, IL-6, mouse homologue of human IL-8 (KC) and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1), while vaginal epithelial-stromal co-cultures secreted granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and KC. Following exposure to HSV-2, IL-6 and MCP-1 levels decreased in uterine EC cultures.


This data shows that ECs from the upper and lower reproductive tract have different cytokine secretion profiles and respond differentially to infection. HSV-2 may be able to suppress epithelial cytokine secretion as a strategy to evade host immune system.

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