Bacterial Vaginosis-Associated Microflora Isolated From the Female Genital Tract Activates HIV-1 Expression

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Summary:Alteration of cervicovaginal microbial flora can lead to vaginosis, which is associated with an increased risk of HIV-1 transmission. We recently characterized a soluble HIV-inducing factor (H1F) from the cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) samples of women. The goals of this study were to determine the effect of cervicovaginal microflora on HIV-1 expression and to elucidate the relationship between HIF activity and microflora. Physiologically relevant microorganisms, Mycoplasma, diphtheroid-like bacteria, Gardnerella vaginalis, Streptococcus agalactiae, and Streptococcus constellatus, cultured from the CVL of a representative woman with a clinical condition of bacterial vaginosis and possessing HIF activity, induced HIV-1 expression. The magnitude of virus induction varied widely with the greatest stimulation induced by diphtheroid-like bacteria and Mycoplasma. The transcriptional induction by Mycoplasma was mediated by activation of the κB enhancer, an activation mechanism shared with HIF. Also as with HIF, Mycoplasma induced AP-1 dependent transcription. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based speciation showed that the isolate was M. hominis. Our data indicate that bacterial vaginosis-associated microflora can enhance HIV-1 transcription and replication and identify M. hominis as a potential source for HIF activity. The virus-enhancing activities associated with the microflora and HIF may increase genital tract viral load, potentially contributing to HIV transmission.

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