Chronic inflammation with increased human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) RNA expression in the vaginal epithelium of HIV-infected Thai women

Michael A. Cohn, Sarah Schlesinger Frankel, Sungwal Rugpao, Mary A. Young, Gerald Willett, Sodsai Tovanabutra, Chirasak Khamboonruang, Thomas VanCott, Lertlakana Bhoopat, Sandra Barrick, Cecil Fox, Thomas C. Quinn, Maryanne Vahey, Kenrad E. Nelson, Drew Weissman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Thai residents have a greater risk of heterosexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) than do US residents. To analyze host factors associated with heterosexual transmission, vaginal epithelial biopsies from HIV-seropositive Thai and US women were evaluated for tissue virus load and histologic makeup. In all, 84% of Thai and 14% of US women exhibited a chronic inflammatory T cell infiltrate in the vaginal epithelium. In Thai tissue, the infiltrate was associated with elevated levels of HIV RNA in the epidermis. Uninfected Thai women also had vaginal epithelial inflammation. Inflammation did not correlate with sexually transmitted diseases or HIV disease stage. The higher rates and increased risk of heterosexual transmission in Thailand may be due to chronic inflammation at the site where the virus is transmitted, which leads to the accumulation of activated T cells. Such cells might act as targets for initial viral infection and subsequently as reservoirs that support efficient transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-417
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Volume184
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 15 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases

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