Vaginal intercourse remains the most prevalent route of infection of women. In spite of many efforts, the detailed mechanisms of HIV-1 transmission in the female lower genital tract remain largely unknown. With all the obvious restrictions on studying these mechanisms in humans, their understanding depends on the development of adequate experimental models. Isolated cell cultures do not faithfully reproduce important aspects of cell-cell interactions in living tissues and tissue responses to pathogens. Explants and other types of ex vivo tissue models serve as a bridge between cell culture and tissues in vivo. Herein, we discuss various cervico-vaginal tissue models and their use in studying HIV vaginal transmission and consider future directions of such studies.
This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.