Reproductive tract immune cells from pregnant women or those using depot medroxyprogesterone acetate show no excess susceptibility to HIV-1: Results of an ex vivo fusion assay

Contraception. 2021 Jan;103(1):44-47. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2020.09.003. Epub 2020 Sep 30.


Introduction: Ex vivo fusion assays offer an efficient method for studying HIV-1 entry associated with contraceptive use and pregnancy outside of cohort studies of HIV-1 incidence.

Methods: We measured ex vivo HIV-1 fusion to cervical or endometrial immune cells from three groups of women: pregnant, non-pregnant not using hormonal or intrauterine contraception, and using depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA).

Results and conclusions: There was no excess susceptibility to HIV-1 fusion of cells from pregnant women or DMPA users compared to controls. Although the number of target cells in endometrium was higher in DMPA users compared to controls, HIV-1 fusion was lower.

Implications: In ex vivo assays, HIV-1 showed no enhanced fusion to cervical immune cells from pregnant women or DMPA users compared to controls, and lower fusion to endometrial immune cells from DMPA users. This assay is useful for studying hormonal and contraceptive effects on HIV-1 entry into reproductive tract immune cells.

Keywords: Contraception and HIV-1 risk; HIV-1 fusion assay; Pregnancy and HIV-1 risk; Reproductive tract HIV-1 target cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cervix Uteri
  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female* / pharmacology
  • Female
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate / pharmacology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnant Women


  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Medroxyprogesterone Acetate