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J Infect Dis. 2019 Nov 6;220(12):2009-2018. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiz412.

Personal and Clinical Vaginal Lubricants: Impact on Local Vaginal Microenvironment and Implications for Epithelial Cell Host Response and Barrier Function.

Author information

1
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine-Phoenix, University of Arizona.
2
Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, United Kingdom.
3
Department of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine-Phoenix, University of Arizona, Baltimore.
4
Institute for Genome Sciences, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

A majority of US women report past use of vaginal lubricants to enhance the ease and comfort of intimate sexual activities. Lubricants are also administered frequently in clinical practice. We sought to investigate if hyperosmolar lubricants are toxic to the vaginal mucosal epithelia.

METHODS:

We tested a panel of commercially available lubricants across a range of osmolalities in human monolayer vaginal epithelial cell (VEC) culture and a robust 3-dimensional (3-D) VEC model. The impact of each lubricant on cellular morphology, cytotoxicity, barrier targets, and the induction of inflammatory mediators was examined. Conceptrol, containing nonoxynol-9, was used as a cytotoxicity control.

RESULTS:

We observed a loss of intercellular connections, and condensation of chromatin, with increasing lubricant osmolality. EZ Jelly, K-Y Jelly, Astroglide, and Conceptrol induced cytotoxicity in both models at 24 hours. There was a strong positive correlation (r = 0.7326) between lubricant osmolality and cytotoxicity in monolayer VECs, and cell viability was reduced in VECs exposed to all the lubricants tested for 24 hours, except McKesson. Notably, select lubricants altered cell viability, barrier targets, and inflammatory mediators in 3-D VECs.

CONCLUSIONS:

These findings indicate that hyperosmolar lubricants alter VEC morphology and are selectively cytotoxic, inflammatory, and barrier disrupting in the 3-D VEC model.

KEYWORDS:

3-D cell culture; cytotoxicity; genital inflammation; human vaginal epithelial cells; inflammatory mediators; nonoxynol-9; vaginal lubricants

PMID:
31539059
PMCID:
PMC6834067
[Available on 2020-11-06]
DOI:
10.1093/infdis/jiz412

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