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Mycoplasma genitalium co-infection in HIV-infected individuals has been reported to increase the shedding of HIV in the urogenital region of females. To better understand this relationship, we investigated the influence of M. genitalium on the transmission and replication of HIV using an in vitro model.


The Transwell co-culture system was employed to assess the crossing of an endocervical cell barrier by HIV-1. Immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy were used to assess the distribution of the nectin-1 molecule on M. genitalium -infected epithelial cells of the End1/E6E7 endocervical cell line, grown as monolayers in the insert wells. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were cultured in the bottom wells to assess the effects of M. genitalium , passing through the semipermeable culturing membrane, on subsequent HIV infection of susceptible target cells.


Infection of the endocervical cells with the adhesion-positive M. genitalium G37 strain (wild-type) significantly elevated the passage of HIV across the epithelial cell barrier relative to HIV transfer across endocervical cells infected with the adhesion-negative M. genitalium JB1 strain. Immunostaining of the M. genitalium -G37-infected epithelial cells disclosed capping and internalization of the junctional regulatory protein nectin-1, in association with reduced transepithelial resistance (TER) in the cell monolayer. When PBMC were cultured beneath insert wells containing M. genitalium -G37-infected epithelial cell monolayers, we observed significantly enhanced infectivity and replication of HIV added afterward to the cultures.


M. genitalium influences events on both sides of a cultured mucosal epithelial monolayer: (1) by infecting the epithelial cells and reducing the integrity of the barrier itself, and (2) by activating HIV target cells below it, thereby promoting HIV infection and progeny virus production.


Copyright © 2014 The Authors

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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International Journal of Infectious Diseases



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