Interplay among Vaginal Microbiome, Immune Response and Sexually Transmitted Viral Infections

Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Jan 11;20(2):266. doi: 10.3390/ijms20020266.


The vaginal ecosystem is important for women's health and for a successful reproductive life, and an optimal host-microbial interaction is required for the maintenance of eubiosis. The vaginal microbiota is dominated by Lactobacillus species in the majority of women. Loss of Lactobacillus dominance promotes the colonization by anaerobic bacterial species with an increase in microbial diversity. Vaginal dysbiosis is a very frequent condition which affects the immune homeostasis, inducing a rupture in the epithelial barrier and favoring infection by sexually transmitted pathogens. In this review, we describe the known interactions among immune cells and microbial commensals which govern health or disease status. Particular attention is given to microbiota compositions which, through interplay with immune cells, facilitate the establishment of viral infections, such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV2).

Keywords: HIV; HPV; HSV2; adaptive immunity; chemokines; cytokines; innate immunity; vaginal microbiota.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dysbiosis / complications*
  • Dysbiosis / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Microbiota
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / etiology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Viral / immunology*
  • Vagina / immunology
  • Vagina / microbiology*
  • Vagina / virology
  • Women's Health


  • Cytokines