Background Reproductive aging may impact the vaginal microbiome and genital tract mucosal immune environment and contribute to genital tract health in women living with and at-risk for HIV infection. Methods A cross-sectional study of 102 HIV+ (51 premenopausal, 51 postmenopausal) and 39 HIV-uninfected (HIV-) (20 premenopausal, 19 postmenopausal) women was performed in Bronx and Brooklyn, NY. Cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) was collected for quantification of innate antimicrobial activity against E. coli, HSV-2 and HIV and immune mediators by Luminex and ELISA. Microbiome studies by qPCR and 16S rRNA sequencing were performed on vaginal swabs. Results HIV+ postmenopausal compared to premenopausal participants had lower median E. coli bactericidal activity (41% vs. 62%, p = 0.001), lower median gene copies of Lactobacillus crispatus (p = 0.005) and Lactobacillus iners (p = 0.019), lower proportions of Lactobacillus iners, higher proportions of Gardnerella and Atopobium vaginae and lower levels of human beta defensins (HBD-2, HBD-3) and secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), p<0.001. HSV-2 inhibitory activity was higher in HIV+ postmenopausal compared to premenopausal participants (37% vs. 17%, p = 0.001) and correlated with the proinflammatory molecules interleukin (IL) 6, IL-8, human neutrophil peptide (HNP) 1–3, lactoferrin and fibronectin. Similar trends were observed in HIV- postmenopausal compared to premenopausal participants. HIV inhibitory activity did not differ by reproductive status in the HIV+ participants but was significantly higher in HIV- postmenopausal compared to premenopausal participants and in participants with suppressed plasma viral load, and inversely correlated with gene copies of G. vaginalis and BVAB2. A significant proportion of HIV+ participants on ART exhibited HIV enhancing activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)