For decades reproductive tract infections (RTIs) have been hypothesized to play a role in uterine fibroid development. The few previous studies conducted used self-reported history of RTIs and had inconsistent findings. We investigated this hypothesis further using serological analysis, an immunological measure of past exposure. We focused on herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) because prior published data have suggested a possible association with fibroids, and serology for HSV-2 is much more sensitive than self-report. We used cross-sectional enrollment data from African-American women enrolled in a prospective study of fibroid incidence and growth (recruited 2010-2012) in the Detroit, Michigan, area. The women were aged 23-34 years and were screened for fibroids using a standardized ultrasound examination at their enrollment. Age- and multivariable-adjusted logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios. Of 1,696 participants, 1,658 had blood samples and HSV-2 serology results; 22% of participants with serology results had fibroids. There was no significant association between HSV-2 seropositivity and the presence of fibroids (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio = 0.94, 95% confidence interval: 0.73, 1.20), nor were there any associations with size of the largest fibroid, number of fibroids, or total fibroid volume. Our data provide no evidence for an influence of HSV-2 exposure on fibroid risk in young African-American women. Further study of other serologically measured RTIs is warranted.
Keywords: herpes simplex virus type 2; seroprevalence; uterine fibroids.
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