Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) enhances susceptibility and increases the window of vulnerability to HIV-1 in humanized mice.
Wessels JM., Nguyen PV., Vitali D., Mueller K., Vahedi F., Felker AM., Dupont HA., Bagri P., Verschoor CP., Deshiere A., Mazzulli T., Tremblay MJ., Ashkar AA., Kaushic C.
The progestin-based hormonal contraceptive Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA) is widely used in sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV-1 is endemic. Meta-analyses have shown that women using DMPA are 40% more likely than women not using hormonal contraceptives to acquire Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV-1). Therefore understanding how DMPA increases susceptibility to HIV-1 is an important public health issue. Using C57BL/6 mice and our previously optimized humanized mouse model (NOD-Rag1tm1Mom Il2rgtm1Wjl transplanted with hCD34-enriched hematopoietic stem cells; Hu-mice) where peripheral blood and tissues are reconstituted by human immune cells, we assessed how DMPA affected mucosal barrier function, HIV-1 susceptibility, viral titres, and target cells compared to mice in the diestrus phase of the estrous cycle, when endogenous progesterone is highest. We found that DMPA enhanced FITC-dextran dye leakage from the vaginal tract into the systemic circulation, enhanced target cells (hCD68+ macrophages, hCD4+ T cells) in the vaginal tract and peripheral blood (hCD45+hCD3+hCD4+hCCR5+ T cells), increased the rate of intravaginal HIV-1 infection, extended the window of vulnerability, and lowered vaginal viral titres following infection. These findings suggest DMPA may enhance susceptibility to HIV-1 in Hu-mice by impairing the vaginal epithelial barrier, increasing vaginal target cells (including macrophages), and extending the period of time during which Hu-mice are susceptible to infection; mechanisms that might also affect HIV-1 susceptibility in women.