In captive rhesus macaques, cervicovaginal inflammation is common but not associated with the stable polymicrobial microbiome.
ABSTRACT: Vaginal inoculation of rhesus macaques (RM) with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) has been used to study the biology of HIV transmission. Although the results of vaginal SIV transmission experiments could be affected by vaginal inflammation, studies to date have been conducted without regard to levels of pre-existing genital inflammation present in RM. We collected cevicovaginal secretions (CVS) from 33-36 RM during the mid menstrual cycle (day 10-20) at 2 time points approximately 8 months apart and characterized the mRNA and protein levels of inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and interferon-stimulated genes. There was extreme variability in the levels of inflammatory mediators (IFN-?, IFN-?, IL-6, TNF, IL-1b, IP-10, MIG, IL-12 and IL-17). In most animals, the mRNA levels of the inflammatory mediators were similar in the 2 CVS samples collected 8 months apart, suggesting that genital inflammation is stable in a subset of captive female RM. At both time points the cervicovaginal microbiota had low levels of Lactobacillus and was relatively diverse with an average of 13 genera in the samples from the first time point (median 13, range 7-21) and an average of 11.5 genera in the samples from the second time point (median 11, range 5-20). Many of the macaques had similar microbiota in the samples collected 8 months apart. However, we found no correlation between specific bacterial genera and the mRNA or protein levels of the inflammatory mediators in the genital tract of RM in this study. It seems likely that results of published vaginal SIV transmission experiments in RM have been influenced by pre-existing inflammation in the animals used for the experiments.
Project description:Immunization with attenuated lentiviruses is the only reliable method of protecting rhesus macaques (RM) from vaginal challenge with pathogenic simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). CD8(+) lymphocyte depletion prior to SIVmac239 vaginal challenge demonstrated that a modest, Gag-specific CD8(+) T cell response induced by immunization with simian-human immunodeficiency virus 89.6 (SHIV89.6) protects RM. Although CD8(+) T cells are required for protection, there is no anamnestic expansion of SIV-specific CD8(+) T cells in any tissues except the vagina after challenge. Further, SHIV immunization increased the number of viral target cells in the vagina and cervix, suggesting that the ratio of target cells to antiviral CD8(+) T cells was not a determinant of protection. We hypothesized that persistent replication of the attenuated vaccine virus modulates inflammatory responses and limits T cell activation and expansion by inducing immunoregulatory T cell populations. We found that attenuated SHIV infection decreased the number of circulating plasmacytoid dendritic cells, suppressed T cell activation, decreased mRNA levels of proinflammatory mediators, and increased mRNA levels of immunoregulatory molecules. Three days after SIV vaginal challenge, SHIV-immunized RM had significantly more T regulatory cells in the vagina than the unimmunized RM. By day 14 postchallenge, immune activation and inflammation were characteristic of unimmunized RM but were minimal in SHIV-immunized RM. Thus, a modest vaccine-induced CD8(+) T cell response in the context of immunoregulatory suppression of T cell activation may protect against vaginal HIV transmission.
Project description:While high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is a well-established risk factor for cervical cancer, there are likely other factors within the local microenvironment that contribute to cervical carcinogenesis. Here we investigated relationships between HPV, vaginal pH, vaginal microbiota (VMB) composition, level of genital immune mediators and severity of cervical neoplasm. We enrolled women with low- and high-grade cervical dysplasia (LGD, HGD), invasive cervical carcinoma (ICC), and healthy controls. HPV16, HPV45, HPV58, and HPV31 were the most prevalent in our cohort with HPV16 and HPV31 genotypes more prevalent in Hispanics. Vaginal pH was associated with ethnicity and severity of cervical neoplasm. Lactobacillus dominance decreased with the severity of cervical neoplasm, which correlated with elevated vaginal pH. Hispanic ethnicity was also associated with decreased Lactobacillus dominance. Furthermore, Sneathia was enriched in all precancerous groups, ICC, abnormal pH and Hispanic origin. Patients with ICC, but not LGD and HGD, exhibited increased genital inflammatory scores and elevated specific immune mediators. Notably, IL-36? was significantly associated with ICC. Our study revealed local, host immune and microbial signatures associated with cervical carcinogenesis and provides an initial step to understanding the complex interplay between mucosal inflammation, HPV persistence and the VMB.
Project description:Innate activity against Escherichia coli in female genital secretions may represent contributions from vaginal bacteria and host soluble immune mediators. We analyzed the relationship between E. coli inhibitory activity, soluble immune mediators, and vaginal bacteria in participants in MTN-004, a placebo-controlled trial of VivaGel(®) , a candidate product for topical HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis.Escherichia coli inhibitory activity was quantified by colony reduction assay. Endocervical concentrations of interleukin (IL)-1?, IL-6, IL-12p40, macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1?, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), lactoferrin, and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) were quantified to generate a cumulative mediator score. Vaginal bacteria were characterized by quantitative cultures.In the two placebo arms, higher soluble immune mediator score was associated with greater E. coli inhibitory activity (? = 17.49, 95% CI [12.77, 22.21] and ? = 13.28, 95% CI [4.76, 21.80]). However, in the VivaGel arm, higher concentrations of E. coli (? = -3.80, 95% CI [-6.36, -1.25]) and group B Streptococcus (? = -3.91, 95% CI [-6.21, -1.60]) were associated with reduced E. coli inhibitory activity.Both host mediators and vaginal bacteria impact E. coli inhibition in genital secretions. The relative contributions of host mediators and bacteria varied between women who used VivaGel vs placebos.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The microbiota plays an important role in HIV pathogenesis in humans. Microbiota can impact health through several pathways such as increasing inflammation in the gut, metabolites of bacterial origin, and microbial translocation from the gut to the periphery which contributes to systemic chronic inflammation and immune activation and the development of AIDS. Unlike HIV-infected humans, SIV-infected vervet monkeys do not experience gut dysfunction, microbial translocation, and chronic immune activation and do not progress to immunodeficiency. Here, we provide the first reported characterization of the microbial ecosystems of the gut and genital tract in a natural nonprogressing host of SIV, wild vervet monkeys from South Africa. RESULTS:We characterized fecal, rectal, vaginal, and penile microbiomes in vervets from populations heavily infected with SIV from diverse locations across South Africa. Geographic site, age, and sex affected the vervet microbiome across different body sites. Fecal and vaginal microbiome showed marked stratification with three enterotypes in fecal samples and two vagitypes, which were predicted functionally distinct within each body site. External bioclimatic factors, biome type, and environmental temperature influenced microbiomes locally associated with vaginal and rectal mucosa. Several fecal microbial taxa were linked to plasma levels of immune molecules, for example, MIG was positively correlated with Lactobacillus and Escherichia/Shigella and Helicobacter, and IL-10 was negatively associated with Erysipelotrichaceae, Anaerostipes, Prevotella, and Anaerovibrio, and positively correlated with Bacteroidetes and Succinivibrio. During the chronic phase of infection, we observed a significant increase in gut microbial diversity, alterations in community composition (including a decrease in Proteobacteria/Succinivibrio in the gut) and functionality (including a decrease in genes involved in bacterial invasion of epithelial cells in the gut), and partial reversibility of acute infection-related shifts in microbial abundance observed in the fecal microbiome. As part of our study, we also developed an accurate predictor of SIV infection using fecal samples. CONCLUSIONS:The vervets infected with SIV and humans infected with HIV differ in microbial responses to infection. These responses to SIV infection may aid in preventing microbial translocation and subsequent disease progression in vervets, and may represent host microbiome adaptations to the virus. Video Abstract.
Project description:Persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the vital factor driving cervical carcinogenesis; however, other features of the local cervicovaginal microenvironment (CVM) may play a critical role in development of precancerous cervical dysplasia and progression to invasive cervical carcinoma (ICC). Here we investigated relationships between locally secreted cancer biomarkers and features of the local CVM to better understand the complex interplay between host, virus and vaginal microbiota (VMB). We enrolled women with ICC, high- and low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions, as well as, HPV-positive and healthy HPV-negative controls. A broad range of cancer biomarkers was present in the local CVM and specifically elevated in ICC patients. The majority of cancer biomarkers were positively correlated to other biomarkers and linked to genital inflammation. Several cancer biomarkers were also negatively correlated to Lactobacillus abundance and positively correlated with abnormal vaginal pH. Finally, a hierarchical clustering analysis of cancer biomarkers and immune mediators revealed three patient clusters, which varied in levels of cancer biomarkers, genital inflammation, vaginal pH and VMB composition. Specific cancer biomarkers discriminated patients with features of the CVM, such as high genital inflammation, elevated vaginal pH and dysbiotic non-Lactobacillus-dominant VMB, that have been associated with HPV persistence, dysplasia and progression to ICC.
Project description:Although IL-15 has been implicated in the pathogenic hyperimmune activation that drives progressive HIV and SIV infection, as well as in the generation of HIV/SIV target cells, it also supports NK and T cell homeostasis and effector activity, potentially benefiting the host. To understand the role of IL-15 in SIV infection and pathogenesis, we treated two cohorts of SIVmac239-infected rhesus macaques (RM; <i>Macaca mulatta</i>), one with chronic infection, the other with primary infection, with a rhesusized, IL-15-neutralizing mAb (versus an IgG isotype control) for up to 10 wk (<i>n</i> = 7-9 RM per group). In both cohorts, anti-IL-15 was highly efficient at blocking IL-15 signaling in vivo, causing 1) profound depletion of NK cells in blood and tissues throughout the treatment period; 2) substantial, albeit transient, depletion of CD8<sup>+</sup> effector memory T cells (T<sub>EM</sub>) (but not the naive and central memory subsets); and 3) CD4<sup>+</sup> and CD8<sup>+</sup> T<sub>EM</sub> hyperproliferation. In primary infection, reduced frequencies of SIV-specific effector T cells in an extralymphoid tissue site were also observed. Despite these effects, the kinetics and extent of SIV replication, CD4<sup>+</sup> T cell depletion, and the onset of AIDS were comparable between anti-IL-15- and control-treated groups in both cohorts. However, RM treated with anti-IL-15 during primary infection manifested accelerated reactivation of RM rhadinovirus. Thus, IL-15 support of NK cell and T<sub>EM</sub> homeostasis does not play a demonstrable, nonredundant role in SIV replication or CD4<sup>+</sup> T cell deletion dynamics but may contribute to immune control of oncogenic ?-herpesviruses.
Project description:We have previously shown that interleukin-21, a pleiotropic C ?-chain signaling cytokine, induces the expression of the cytotoxic molecules granzyme B (GrB) and perforin in vitro in CD8 T cells and NK cells of chronically HIV infected individuals. In this pilot study, four chronically SIV infected rhesus macaques (RM) in late-stage disease were given two doses of recombinant MamuIL-21, 50 ?g/kg, intravenously 7 days apart, followed by one subcutaneous dose, 100 ?g/kg, 23 days after the second dose. Three animals served as controls. After each dose of IL-21, increases were noted in frequency and mean fluorescence intensity of GrB and perforin expression in memory and effector subsets of CD8 T cells in peripheral blood (PB), in peripheral and mesenteric lymph node (LN) cells, in PB memory and effector CD4 T cells and in NK cells. Frequencies of SIV-gag specific CD107a(+)IFN-?(+) CD8 T cells increased 3.8-fold in PB and 1.8-fold in LN. In addition, PB CD27(+) memory B cells were 2-fold higher and serum SIV antibodies increased significantly after IL-21 administration. No changes were observed in markers of T cell activation, T cell proliferation or plasma virus load. Thus, administration of IL-21 to chronically SIV infected viremic animals was safe, well tolerated and could augment the cytotoxic potential of T cells and NK cells, promote B cell differentiation with increases in SIV antibody titers without discernable increase in cellular activation. Further studies are warranted to elucidate the effects and potential benefit of IL-21 administration in the context of SIV/HIV infection and in SIV/HIV vaccine design.
Project description:NK cell responses to HIV/SIV infection have been well studied in acute and chronic infected patients/monkeys, but little is known about NK cells during viral transmission, particularly in mucosal tissues. In this article, we report a systematic study of NK cell responses to high-dose vaginal exposure to SIVmac251 in the rhesus macaque female reproductive tract (FRT). Small numbers of NK cells were recruited into the FRT mucosa following vaginal inoculation. The influx of mucosal NK cells preceded local virus replication and peaked at 1 wk and, thus, was in an appropriate time frame to control an expanding population of infected cells at the portal of entry. However, NK cells were greatly outnumbered by recruited target cells that fuel local virus expansion and were spatially dissociated from SIV RNA+ cells at the major site of expansion of infected founder populations in the transition zone and adjoining endocervix. The number of NK cells in the FRT mucosa decreased rapidly in the second week, while the number of SIV RNA+ cells in the FRT reached its peak. Mucosal NK cells produced IFN-? and MIP-1?/CCL3 but lacked several markers of activation and cytotoxicity, and this was correlated with inoculum-induced upregulation of the inhibitory ligand HLA-E and downregulation of the activating receptor CD122/IL-2R?. Examination of SIV?nef-vaccinated monkeys suggested that recruitment of NK cells to the genital mucosa was not involved in vaccine-induced protection from vaginal challenge. In summary, our results suggest that NK cells play, at most, a limited role in defenses in the FRT against vaginal challenge.
Project description:Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) causes a persistent, lifelong infection that increases risk for sexually transmitted infection acquisition. Both the lack of a vaccine and the need for chronic suppressive therapies to control infection presents the need to further understand immune mechanisms in response to acute HSV-2 infection. The IL-36 cytokines are recently identified members of the IL-1 family and function as inflammatory mediators at epithelial sites. Here, we first used a well-characterized three-dimensional (3-D) human vaginal epithelial cell (VEC) model to understand the role of IL-36? in the context of HSV-2 infection. In 3-D VEC, IL-36? is induced by HSV-2 infection, and pretreatment with exogenous IL-36? significantly reduced HSV-2 replication. To assess the impact of IL-36? treatment on HSV-2 disease pathogenesis, we employed a lethal genital infection model. We showed that IL-36? treatment in mice prior to lethal intravaginal challenge significantly limited vaginal viral replication, delayed disease onset, decreased disease severity, and significantly increased survival. We demonstrated that IL-36? treatment transiently induced pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and antimicrobial peptides in murine lower female reproductive tract (FRT) tissue and vaginal lavages. Induction of the chemokines CCL20 and KC in IL-36? treated mice also corresponded with increased polymorphonuclear (PMN) leukocyte infiltration observed in vaginal smears. Altogether, these studies demonstrate that IL-36? drives the transient production of immune mediators and promotes PMN recruitment in the vaginal microenvironment that increases resistance to HSV-2 infection and disease. Our data indicate that IL-36? may participate as a key player in host defense mechanisms against invading pathogens in the FRT.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Reproductive aging may impact the vaginal microbiome and genital tract mucosal immune environment and contribute to genital tract health in women living with and at-risk for HIV infection.<h4>Methods</h4>A cross-sectional study of 102 HIV+ (51 premenopausal, 51 postmenopausal) and 39 HIV-uninfected (HIV-) (20 premenopausal, 19 postmenopausal) women was performed in Bronx and Brooklyn, NY. Cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) was collected for quantification of innate antimicrobial activity against E. coli, HSV-2 and HIV and immune mediators by Luminex and ELISA. Microbiome studies by qPCR and 16S rRNA sequencing were performed on vaginal swabs.<h4>Results</h4>HIV+ postmenopausal compared to premenopausal participants had lower median E. coli bactericidal activity (41% vs. 62%, p = 0.001), lower median gene copies of Lactobacillus crispatus (p = 0.005) and Lactobacillus iners (p = 0.019), lower proportions of Lactobacillus iners, higher proportions of Gardnerella and Atopobium vaginae and lower levels of human beta defensins (HBD-2, HBD-3) and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), p<0.001. HSV-2 inhibitory activity was higher in HIV+ postmenopausal compared to premenopausal participants (37% vs. 17%, p = 0.001) and correlated with the proinflammatory molecules interleukin (IL) 6, IL-8, human neutrophil peptide (HNP) 1-3, lactoferrin and fibronectin. Similar trends were observed in HIV- postmenopausal compared to premenopausal participants. HIV inhibitory activity did not differ by reproductive status in the HIV+ participants but was significantly higher in HIV- postmenopausal compared to premenopausal participants and in participants with suppressed plasma viral load, and inversely correlated with gene copies of G. vaginalis and BVAB2. A significant proportion of HIV+ participants on ART exhibited HIV enhancing activity.<h4>Conclusions</h4>HIV+ postmenopausal compared to premenopausal participants have less CVL E. coli bactericidal activity, reflecting a reduction in Lactobacilli and a greater proportion of Gardnerella and A. vaginae, and more HSV-2 inhibitory activity, reflecting increased mucosal inflammation. The effect of menopause on mucosal immunity was greater in HIV+ participants, suggesting a synergistic impact. Promotion of a lactobacillus dominant vaginal microbiome and reduced mucosal inflammation may improve vaginal health and reduce risk for shedding of HIV and potential for HIV transmission in HIV+ menopausal women.