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Biochemistry - Immunology - Infectious Diseases - Urology - Women's Health

High Level of Soluble HLA-G in the Female Genital Tract of Beninese Commercial Sex Workers Is Associated with HIV-1 Infection
Published: Friday, September 23, 2011
Author: Valérie Thibodeau et al.

by Valérie Thibodeau, Julie Lajoie, Annie-Claude Labbé, Marcel D. Zannou, Keith R. Fowke, Michel Alary, Johanne Poudrier, Michel Roger


Most HIV infections are transmitted across mucosal epithelium. Understanding the role of innate and specific mucosal immunity in susceptibility or protection against HIV infection, as well as the effect of HIV infection on mucosal immunity, are of fundamental importance. HLA-G is a powerful modulator of the immune response. The aim of this study was to investigate whether soluble HLA-G (sHLA-G) expression in the female genital tract is associated with HIV-1 infection.

Methods and Findings

Genital levels of sHLA-G were determined in 52 HIV-1-uninfected and 44 antiretroviral naïve HIV-1-infected female commercial sex workers (CSWs), as well as 71 HIV-1-uninfected non-CSW women at low risk of exposure, recruited in Cotonou, Benin. HIV-1-infected CSWs had higher genital levels of sHLA-G compared with those in both the HIV-1-uninfected CSW (P?=?0.009) and non-CSW groups (P?=?0.0006). The presence of bacterial vaginosis (P?=?0.008), and HLA-G*01:01:02 genotype (P?=?0.002) were associated with higher genital levels of sHLA-G in the HIV-1-infected CSWs, whereas the HLA-G*01:04:04 genotype was also associated with higher genital level of sHLA-G in the overall population (P?=?0.038). When adjustment was made for all significant variables, the increased expression of sHLA-G in the genital mucosa remained significantly associated with both HIV-1 infection (P?=?0.02) and bacterial vaginosis (P?=?0.03).


This study demonstrates that high level of sHLA-G in the genital mucosa is independently associated with both HIV-1 infection and bacterial vaginosis.