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HIV-Enhancing Factors Are Secreted by Reproductive Epithelia upon Inoculation with Bacterial Vaginosis-Associated Bacteria

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Bacterial vaginosis is a common reproductive infection in which commensal vaginal lactobacilli are displaced by a mixed population of pathogenic bacteria. Bacterial vaginosis increases susceptibility to HIV, and it has been suggested that host innate immune responses to pathogenic bacteria contribute to enhanced infection, yet the cellular mechanisms mediating the increased HIV susceptibility remain uncharacterized.

We evaluated the HIV-enhancing effects of bacterial vaginosis by inoculating endocervical epithelia with Atopobium vaginae, a bacterial vaginosis-associated bacteria, and assaying secreted factors for HIV-enhancing activity. When epithelia and A. vaginae were cocultured, we observed increased HIV-enhancing activity mediated by secreted low molecular weight factors. From this complex mixture we identified several upregulated host proteins, which functioned in combination to enhance HIV infection.

These studies suggest that the host immune response to bacterial vaginosis-associated bacteria results in the release of HIV-enhancing factors. The combined activity of bacterial vaginosis-induced proteins likely mediates HIV enhancement.
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Keywords: Atopobium vaginae; bacterial vaginosis; female reproductive tract; heterosexual HIV transmission; innate immunity; mucosal immunology

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2015

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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