Bacterial vaginosis and the cervicovaginal immune response

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2014 Jun;71(6):555-63. doi: 10.1111/aji.12264.


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common cause of vaginal discharge in reproductive age women around the world and is associated with several poor reproductive health outcomes, including HIV-1 acquisition. One possible mechanism for this association is the inflammatory immune response induced by BV in the cervical and vaginal mucosae. There is significant heterogeneity in reports of markers of cervicovaginal inflammation in women with BV, likely due to microbial and host diversity, as well as differences in study design. In this article, we review the characteristics of the mucosal immune response in BV, the potential role of lactobacilli in modulating that response, and the impact of individual BV-associated bacterial species on mucosal immunity. We focus on inflammatory markers that are proposed to increase the risk of HIV-1 acquisition.

Keywords: Bacterial vaginosis; HIV; inflammation; vaginal immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cervix Uteri / immunology*
  • Cervix Uteri / microbiology
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • HIV-1 / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal / genetics
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Lactobacillus / immunology
  • Mucous Membrane / immunology
  • Vagina / immunology*
  • Vagina / microbiology
  • Vaginal Discharge / microbiology
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / immunology*
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / microbiology*


  • Cytokines