The influence of ovarian hormones on the mucosal proteome of the female genital tract & the implications for HIV susceptibility in women

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Birse, Kenzie
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Increased HIV susceptibility has been associated with the progesterone-dominant luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and the use of progesterone-only contraceptives, yet the mechanism is poorly understood. Here, we performed mass spectrometry-based analyses of cervicovaginal fluids collected from women with differing ovarian hormone levels as demonstrated by menstrual cycle phase or exogenous progesterone-only contraceptive use. We found that proteins associated with maintaining the integrity of epithelial barrier were enriched during times of high estradiol, whereas during times of high progesterone, there was a loss of barrier integrity proteins and an enrichment of proteins with known roles in inflammatory processes including leukocyte infiltration. Progesterone-based proteomic profiles were also strongly associated with neutrophil signatures with some evidence of CD4+ T cell signatures. This study generates new hypotheses about the potential mechanisms of hormone-associated HIV susceptibility including a weakened epithelial barrier and increased HIV target cell recruitment during times of increased progesterone.
Ovarian hormones, HIV susceptibility, Progesterone, Estradiol, Women's health