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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Immunology - Infectious Diseases - Pathology - Pediatrics and Child Health - Women's Health

Altered Biomarkers of Mucosal Immunity and Reduced Vaginal Lactobacillus Concentrations in Sexually Active Female Adolescents
Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Author: Rebecca Pellett Madan et al.

by Rebecca Pellett Madan, Colleen Carpenter, Tina Fiedler, Sabah Kalyoussef, Thomas C. McAndrew, Shankar Viswanathan, Mimi Kim, Marla J. Keller, David N. Fredricks, Betsy C. Herold

Background

Genital secretions collected from adult women exhibit in vitro activity against herpes simplex virus (HSV) and Escherichia coli (E. coli), but prior studies have not investigated this endogenous antimicrobial activity or its mediators in adolescent females.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Anti-HSV and anti-E.coli activity were quantified from cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) specimens collected from 20 sexually active adolescent females (15–18 years). Soluble immune mediators that may influence this activity were measured in CVL, and concentrations of Lactobacillus jensenii and crispatus were quantified by PCR from vaginal swabs. Results for adolescents were compared to those obtained from 54 healthy, premenopausal adult women. Relative to specimens collected from adults, CVL collected from adolescent subjects had significantly reduced activity against E. coli and diminished concentrations of protein, IgG, and IgA but significantly increased anti-HSV activity and concentrations of interleukin (IL)-1a, IL-6 and IL-1 receptor antagonist. Vaginal swabs collected from adolescent subjects had comparable concentrations of L. crispatus but significantly reduced concentrations of L. jensenii, relative to adult swabs.

Conclusions/Significance

Biomarkers of genital mucosal innate immunity may differ substantially between sexually active adolescents and adult women. These findings warrant further study and may have significant implications for prevention of sexually transmitted infections in adolescent females.

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