Study findings show that genital inflammation can shape genital antibody responses

15 December 2021

Using vaginal specimens from CA- PRISA’s 004 and 008 clinical trials, this article published in Scientific Reports-Nature Portfolio entitled ‘Higher mucosal antibody concentrations in women with genital tract inflammation’ by CAPRISA’s post-doctoral fellow Dr Parveen Sobia and principal investigator, Dr Derseree Archary provides further dissection on the interaction between pre-existing genital inflammation and genital antibodies.

Genital inflammation modifies HIV risk. However, there is a paucity of data on whether genital inflammation can modify antibody profiles and affect the antibodies’ ability to block infection or impact vaccine efficacy in especially vulnerable populations of young women in sub-Saharan Africa.

Women with genital inflammation gauged by elevated levels of genital cytokines had significantly higher levels of genital IgG subclasses (IgG1, IgG3 and IgG4) and isotype IgM compared to women without inflammation. We also observed strong significant associations between cytokines defining genital inflammation and antibodies in the genital tract. Our findings suggest that genital inflammation can shape genital antibody responses.

Therefore, from a biological perspective, it is important to understand if pre-existing genital inflammation presets the antibody footprint at the vulnerable sexual surface that may undermine HIV prevention strategies including both PrEP and vaccines. The researchers iterate that further investigation is required to verify a plausible link between the local inflammatory milieu and the effect on genital antibodies and their functions.

 - Parveen Sobia (PhD)

For further reading see Sobia P, et al. High- er mucosal antibody concentrations in women with genital tract inflammation. Scientific Reports 2021; 11:23514.

Figure. Comparison of mucosal IgG subclasses and isotypes in women stratified for presence of genital inflammation (GI+) or absence of genital inflammation (GI−) within cases [GI+ (n = 18) and GI− (n = 48)] and controls [GI+ (n = 8) and GI− (n = 58)] pre-HIV infection. Each data point represents an individual sample, the line-bars represents medians and interquartile ranges. Black circle represents cases and black triangle represents controls.

In the photo L;  Dr Parveen Sobia and Dr Derseree Archary