Antimicrobial and immune modulatory effects of vaginal microbiota metabolites
Determining the role of vaginal microbiota metabolites in activating HIV and other STIs, and their immune modulatory effects on cells found in the lower female reproductive tract.
Globally, almost 19 per cent of the 1.8 million new HIV infections in 2017 were in adolescent girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa, where the virus mainly establishes infection by entry through the cervicovagina.
Women colonised with optimal cervicovaginal microbiota, typically dominated by Lactobacillus spp., are protected against HIV in contrast to women with “non-optimal” vaginal bacteria (e.g. bacterial vaginosis (BV)). Distinguishing features between women with BV vs Lactobacillus spp. dominated cervicovaginal microbiota include a dramatic increase in vaginal pH and a change in the concentrations of the vaginal microbiota metabolites, lactic acid, short chain fatty acid (SCFAs) and succinic acid.
This study aims to determine the antiviral and immune modulatory effects of these organic acid metabolites to understand their role in either helping to protect or to promote acquisition of HIV and other STIs.
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