Comparison of Follicular and Luteal Phase Mucosal Markers of HIV Susceptibility in Healthy Women

AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2016 Jun;32(6):547-60. doi: 10.1089/AID.2015.0264. Epub 2016 Feb 10.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate differences in vaginal immune cell populations, vaginal tissue gene expression, antimicrobial activity of the cervicovaginal (CV) lavage (CVL), vaginal flora, and p24 antigen production from CV tissues after ex vivo human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection between follicular (FOL) and luteal (LUT) phases of the menstrual cycle. CV tissue biopsies, CV secretions, and blood samples were obtained as part of two longitudinal clinical trials of healthy women (CONRAD D11-119 and A12-124 studies). Participants (n = 39) were HIV-seronegative women not using exogenous hormone supplementation, with normal menstrual cycles, who were screened to exclude sexually transmitted and reproductive tract infections. Serum levels of estradiol and progesterone were significantly higher in the LUT versus the FOL phase of the menstrual cycle. Controlling for race, reported contraceptive use/sexual practices, and clinical trial, we found no differences in vaginal tissue immune cell populations and activation status, transcriptomes, inhibition of HIV, herpes simplex virus type 2 and Escherichia coli by the CVL, vaginal pH or Nugent score, or production of p24 antigen after ex vivo infection by HIV-1BaL between CV samples obtained in the FOL phase versus the LUT phase of the menstrual cycle. There were no significant correlations between serum estradiol and progesterone levels and CV endpoints. The hypothesis that the LUT phase of the menstrual cycle represents a more vulnerable stage for mucosal infection with HIV was not supported by data from samples obtained from the lower genital tract (ectocervix and vagina) from these two clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Blood Chemical Analysis
  • Bodily Secretions
  • Disease Susceptibility*
  • Escherichia coli / immunology
  • Female
  • Follicular Phase / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV-1 / immunology
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Herpesvirus 2, Human / immunology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Luteal Phase / immunology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Vagina / immunology*
  • Young Adult