Get access

Distribution of Immune Cells in the Human Cervix and Implications for HIV Transmission

Authors

  • Radiana T. Trifonova,

    1. Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Judy Lieberman,

    Corresponding author
    1. Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
    • Correspondence

      Judy Lieberman, Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 200 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

      E-mail: Judy.Lieberman@childrens.harvard.edu

      and

      Debbie van Baarle, Laboratory of Translational Immunology and Dept Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, hsp KC02.085.1, University Medical Center Utrecht, Lundlaan 6, Utrecht 3584 EA, The Netherlands.

      E-mail: D.vanBaarle@umcutrecht.nl

    Search for more papers by this author
    • Author to receive the proofs.
  • Debbie van Baarle

    Corresponding author
    1. Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
    2. Department of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases and Department of Immunology, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
    • Correspondence

      Judy Lieberman, Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 200 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

      E-mail: Judy.Lieberman@childrens.harvard.edu

      and

      Debbie van Baarle, Laboratory of Translational Immunology and Dept Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases, hsp KC02.085.1, University Medical Center Utrecht, Lundlaan 6, Utrecht 3584 EA, The Netherlands.

      E-mail: D.vanBaarle@umcutrecht.nl

    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Problem

Knowledge of the mucosal immune cell composition of the human female genital tract is important for understanding susceptibility to HIV-1.

Method of study

We developed an optimized procedure for multicolor flow cytometry analysis of immune cells from human cervix to characterize all major immune cell subsets in the endocervix and ectocervix.

Results

Half of tissue hematopoietic cells were CD14+, many of which were macrophages and about a third were CD11c+, most of which were CD103 CD11b+ CX3CR1+ DC-SIGN+ dendritic cells (DCs). The other dominant population were T cells, with more CD8 than CD4 cells. T cells (both CD8 and CD4) and B cells were more abundant in the ectocervix than endocervix of pre-menopausal women; however, CD8+ T cell and B cell numbers declined in the ectocervix after menopause, while CD4 T cell counts remained higher. B, NK and conventional myeloid and plasmocytoid DCs each were a few percent of tissue hematopoietic cells. Although the ectocervix had more HIV-susceptible CD4+ T cells, polarized endocervical explants supported HIV replication significantly better.

Conclusion

Due to their abundance in the genital tract, CX3CR1+ DC-SIGN+ DCs might be important in HIV transmission. Our data also suggest that the columnar epithelium of the upper genital tract might be a preferential site for HIV transmission.

Ancillary