PROBLEM: Mucosal immune system activation may represent a critical determinant of adverse sequelae correlated with bacterial vaginosis, as HIV sexual transmission, upper genital tract infections, cervicitis, endometritis, postsurgical infections, and adverse pregnancy outcomes as preterm delivery (PTD), low birth weight (LBW).
METHOD OF STUDY: Levels of interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), anti-Gardnerella vaginalis hemolysin (Gvh) IgA, pH, Nugent score, and number of leukocytes were measured in vaginal fluids of 60 fertile women with bacterial vaginosis and of 64 healthy controls.
RESULTS: Vaginal IL-1beta levels were nearly 13-fold higher in women with bacterial vaginosis (BV) and were associated with anti-Gvh IgA response. IL-1beta was positively correlated with leukocyte counts in the smear both in healthy and bacterial vaginosis positive women.
CONCLUSIONS: Induction of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-1beta may be a necessary event to elicit an innate immune response to control anaerobic genital tract infections. High levels of vaginal IL-1beta are associated with mounting of an antigen-specific mucosal immune response in women with bacterial vaginosis. Parallel induction of innate and adaptive immune response may be associated with protection from ascent of micro-organisms to the upper genital tract, and from acquiring viral infection through the vaginal tract.