Local and Systemic Inflammation in Localized, Provoked Vestibulodynia: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To synthesize and critically evaluate all available evidence investigating whether localized, provoked vestibulodynia is associated with a specific inflammatory profile at both a local and a systemic level.

DATA SOURCES:

Comprehensive electronic searches were performed in MEDLINE, EMBASE, Scopus, PubMed, Web of Science, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, the Cochrane Collaboration databases, and ClinicalTrials.gov. The search strategy was developed using MeSH terms related to localized, provoked vestibulodynia, and inflammatory markers.

METHODS OF STUDY SELECTION:

Two independent investigators screened titles and abstracts and performed data extraction and risk of bias assessments. Studies were included if they reported at least one baseline inflammatory marker in women with localized, provoked vestibulodynia and compared them with healthy women. Reference lists from published reviews on localized, provoked vestibulodynia were screened for additional studies.

TABULATION, INTEGRATION, AND RESULTS:

There were 1,619 studies identified. Eighteen studies met the inclusion criteria, including 400 women with localized, provoked vestibulodynia and 212 healthy women in a control group. Risk of bias assessment revealed that the methodologic quality was generally low. Fifteen studies investigated local inflammation and three studies investigated systemic inflammation. On a local level, the number of mast cells expressed in vestibular tissues was greater in women with localized, provoked vestibulodynia expressed than in women in the control group. Several studies reported undefined inflammatory infiltrate in vestibular tissues to a greater level in women with localized, provoked vestibulodynia than in women in the control group. Systemically, levels of natural killer cells were lower in women with localized, provoked vestibulodynia than in women in the control group. There were no systemic differences in systemic interferon-α and interferon-υ levels between groups.

CONCLUSION:

There is limited and contradictory evidence regarding the characteristics of local and systemic inflammation in women with localized, provoked vestibulodynia.

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