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PloS One


Background: We investigated the impact of antimicrobials in cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) from HIV(+) and HIV(2) women on target cell infection with HIV. Since female reproductive tract (FRT) secretions contain a spectrum of antimicrobials, we hypothesized that CVL from healthy HIV(+) and (2) women inhibit HIV infection.

Methodology/Principal Findings: CVL from 32 HIV(+) healthy women with high CD4 counts and 15 healthy HIV(2) women were collected by gently washing the cervicovaginal area with 10 ml of sterile normal saline. Following centrifugation, anti- HIV activity in CVL was determined by incubating CVL with HIV prior to addition to TZM-bl cells. Antimicrobials and anti- gp160 HIV IgG antibodies were measured by ELISA. When CXCR4 and CCR5 tropic HIV-1 were incubated with CVL from HIV(+) women prior to addition to TZM-bl cells, anti-HIV activity in CVL ranged from none to 100% inhibition depending on the viral strains used. CVL from HIV(2) controls showed comparable anti-HIV activity. Analysis of CH077.c (clone of an R5- tropic, mucosally-transmitted founder virus) viral inhibition by CVL was comparable to laboratory strains. Measurement of CVL for antimicrobials HBD2, trappin-2/elafin, SLPI and MIP3a indicated that each was present in CVL from HIV(+) and HIV(2) women. HBD2 and MIP3a correlated with anti-HIV activity as did anti-gp160 HIV IgG antibodies in CVL from HIV(+) women.

Conclusions/Significance: These findings indicate that CVL from healthy HIV(+) and HIV(2) women contain innate and adaptive defense mechanisms that inhibit HIV infection. Our data suggest that innate endogenous antimicrobials and HIV- specific IgG in the FRT can act in concert to contribute toward the anti-HIV activity of the CVL and may play a role in inhibition of HIV transmission to women.