• Adolescent behaviors;
  • adolescents;
  • sexually transmitted infections;
  • vaginal immunity

Problem  The resistance and/or susceptibility to infections can be influenced by patterns of immunomodulators. Based on this and the high rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in adolescents, we examined the longitudinal relationship between sexual behaviors, hormonal contraceptive use, and bacterial vaginosis (BV) with vaginal-associated immunomodulators in adolescent females.

Method of study  Over 27 months, subjects completed detailed questionnaires, and consented to vaginal swabs for STI testing, and vaginal lavages for identification of immunomodulators including T-helper, proinflammatory, and chemokines. Concentrations of immunomodulators were correlated with each parameter together with prevalence of STIs.

Results  Each parameter had a limited influence on vaginal immunomodulators with no evidence of any pattern(s) associated with infection. Conversely, the local presence of proinflammatory cytokines and neutrophils in those with an STI indicated some immune responsiveness.

Conclusion  Sexual behaviors, contraceptive usage, and BV do not appear as factors in susceptibility of adolescents to STIs through the influence of local immunomodulators.