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Mucosal Immunol. 2011 Nov;4(6):671-81. doi: 10.1038/mi.2011.34. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

Enhanced HIV-1 replication in ex vivo ectocervical tissues from post-menopausal women correlates with increased inflammatory responses.

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  • 1Research Service, V.A. Medical Center, White River Junction, Vermont, USA.


Knowledge about early innate immune responses at the mucosal surfaces of the female genital tract is important in understanding the pathogenesis of heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1). As estradiol decreases inflammatory responses, we postulated that an estradiol-deficient state such as post-menopause could enhance expression of inflammatory factors that stimulate HIV-1 replication. We compare HIV-1 integration, transcription, and viral p24 release levels among ectocervical tissues obtained from pre- and post-menopausal donors. We detected enhanced HIV-1 p24 release levels in post- compared with pre-menopausal tissues (P<0.0001), but saw no difference in HIV-1 integration. Overall, 100% of post-menopausal tissues exhibited levels of HIV-1 transcription above background compared with only 60% of pre-menopausal tissues. Increased HIV-1 transcription was associated with enhanced interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, monocyte chemotactic protein-1, growth-regulated oncogene-α, and interferon-γ-inducible protein-10 expression. Neutralization and nuclear factor-κB-targeting small-interfering RNA experiments both decreased HIV-1 transcription, suggesting that the early inflammatory response may facilitate HIV-1 replication in ex vivo ectocervical tissues from post-menopausal women.

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