• Article

Impact of chronic sexual abuse and depression on inflammation and wound healing in the female reproductive tract of HIV-uninfected and HIV-infected women

Sexual violence is associated with increased risk of HIV acquisition/transmission in women. Forced sex can result in physical trauma to the reproductive tract as well as severe psychological distress. However, immuno-biological mechanisms linking sexual violence and HIV susceptibility are incompletely understood. Using the Women's Interagency HIV Study repository, a total of 77 women were selected to form 4 groups, stratified by HIV serostatus, in the following categories: 1) no sexual abuse history and low depressive symptom score (below clinically significant cut-off, scores <16) (Control); 2) no sexual abuse history but high depressive symptom score, ≥16 (Depression); 3) chronic sexual abuse exposure and low depressive symptom score (Abuse); 4) chronic sexual abuse exposure and high depressive symptom score (Abuse+Depression). Inflammation-associated cytokines/chemokines/proteases (TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1α, IL-1β, TGF-β MIP-3α, IP-10, MCP-1, Cathepsin B), anti-inflammatory/anti-HIV mediators (Secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI), Elafin, beta defensin 2 (HBD2), alpha defensins (HNP 1-3), Thrombospondin (TSP-1), Serpin A1, A5, Cystatin A, B), and wound-healing mediators (Gro-α, VEGF, PDGF, EGF, FGF, IGF), were measured in cervical-vaginal lavage (CVL) using ELISA. Linear regression was used to model association of biomarkers with depression and abuse as predictor variables; the interaction between depression and abuse was also tested. Anti-HIV activity in CVL was tested using TZM-bl indicator cell line. In HIV-uninfected women, median levels of IL-6 (p = 0.04), IL-1α (p<0.01), TGF-β (p = 0.01), IP-10 (p = <0.01), PDGF (p<0.01) and FGF (p<0.01), differed significantly between groups. Specifically, an association was found between chronic sexual abuse and increased IL-1α (p<0.01), MIP-3α (p = 0.04), IP-10 (p<0.01), Serpin B1 (p = 0.01), FGF (p = 0.04) and decreased TGF-β (p<0.01), MCP-1 (p = 0.02), PDGF (p<0.01). Further, there was evidence of significant interactions between chronic sexual abuse and current depression for IL-1α, IP-10, Serpin A1, Cystatin B, and FGF. In HIV-infected women, median levels of TNF-α (p<0.01), IL-6 (p = 0.05), MIP-3α (p<0.01), and MCP-1 (p = 0.01), differed significantly between groups. Specifically, an association was found between chronic sexual abuse and increased MCP-1 (p = 0.03), Gro-α (p = 0.01) and decreased TNF-α (p<0.01), IL-1α (p = 0.02), MIP-3α (p<0.01) and Cathepsin B (p = 0.03). Current depressive symptoms were associated with significantly decreased MIP-3α (p<0.01). There was evidence of significant interactions between chronic sexual abuse and current depression for MCP-1 and FGF. No significant differences were observed in anti-HIV activity among all eight groups. Heat-map analyses revealed distinct immune network patterns, particularly in the Abuse groups for both HIV-infected and uninfected women. Our data indicates a complex relationship between chronic sexual abuse exposure, depressive symptoms, and FRT immune mediators that are also affected by HIV status. Association of chronic sexual abuse with increase in inflammation-associated cytokine/chemokine expression, along with impaired wound-healing associated growth-factors can create a microenvironment that can facilitate HIV infection. Evaluation of longitudinal changes in exposures and biomarkers are needed to untangle the immuno-biological mechanisms that may put women who endure life-long sexual abuse at increased risk for HIV.

Citation

Ghosh, M., Daniels, J., Pyra, M., Juzumaite, M., Jais, M., Murphy, K., ... Weber, K. (2018). Impact of chronic sexual abuse and depression on inflammation and wound healing in the female reproductive tract of HIV-uninfected and HIV-infected women. PLoS One, 13(6), e0198412. [0198412]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0198412