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High Levels of Genital HLA-G Linked With HIV-1 Infection

Last Updated: February 16, 2012.

High genital levels of soluble HLA-G, a powerful modulator of the immune response, are associated with HIV-1 infection in Beninese commercial sex workers, according to a study published online in PLoS One.

THURSDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- High genital levels of soluble HLA-G (sHLA-G), a powerful modulator of the immune response, are associated with HIV-1 infection in Beninese commercial sex workers (CSWs), according to a study published online in PLoS One.

To investigate whether sHLA-G expression in the female genital tract is associated with HIV-1 infection, Valérie Thibodeau, of the University of Montreal, and colleagues determined genital levels of sHLA-G in 52 HIV-1-uninfected female CSWs, 44 antiretroviral naive HIV-1-infected female CSWs, and 71 HIV-1-uninfected non-CSW women at low risk of exposure.

The researchers found that HIV-1-infected CSWs had significantly higher genital levels of sHLA-G compared with those in the HIV-1-uninfected CSW and non-CSW groups (P = 0.009 and 0.0006, respectively). In the HIV-1 infected CSWs, the presence of bacterial vaginosis and HLA-G*01:01:02 genotype were associated with higher genital levels of sHLA-G (P = 0.008 and 0.002, respectively). In the overall population, HLA-G*01:04:04 genotype correlated with higher genital levels of sHLA-G (P = 0.038). The increased expression of sHLA-G in the genital mucosa remained significantly associated with both HIV-1 infection (P = 0.02) and bacterial vaginosis (P = 0.03), even after adjusting for all relevant variables.

"This study demonstrates that high levels of sHLA-G in the genital mucosa is independently associated with both HIV-1 infection and bacterial vaginosis," the authors write.

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