Cytokine and antibody responses in women infected with Neisseria gonorrhoeae: effects of concomitant infections

J Infect Dis. 1998 Sep;178(3):742-51. doi: 10.1086/515372.


The levels of interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, and transforming growth factor-beta in sera and genital tract secretions from women with gonococcal cervicitis and other genital infections were examined. Cytokines were not elevated in genital secretions from gonococcus-infected compared with uninfected patients. The level of serum IL-6 was higher in gonococcus-infected than in uninfected patients at recruitment. Serum, but not local, IL-1 and IL-6 levels were elevated in patients concomitantly infected with Trichomonas vaginalis or Chlamydia trachomatis in addition to Neisseria gonorrhoeae compared with levels in patients infected with any single organism. Concomitant infection altered neither the total immunoglobulin concentrations nor the levels of antigonococcal antibodies in serum or local secretions. The results suggest that N. gonorrhoeae induces only a limited cytokine and antibody response during uncomplicated cervical infections; however, the presence of other sexually transmitted disease-causing organisms can alter the systemic cytokine but not the antigonococcal antibody levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / biosynthesis*
  • Cervix Uteri / immunology*
  • Cervix Uteri / pathology
  • Chlamydia Infections / complications*
  • Chlamydia Infections / immunology
  • Chlamydia trachomatis*
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / blood
  • Gonorrhea / complications
  • Gonorrhea / immunology*
  • Gonorrhea / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Interleukins / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Trichomonas Infections / complications*
  • Trichomonas Infections / immunology
  • Trichomonas vaginalis*
  • Vagina / immunology*
  • Vagina / pathology


  • Antibodies, Bacterial
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta