OBJECTIVE: The primary target cells for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in the genital tract are CD4 T cells that express CCR5 on the surface. Alterations in genital tract T cells that express CCR5 could impact HIV acquisition risk. We hypothesized that, when compared with baseline, the use of a hormonal intrauterine device (IUD) would alter HIV target cells (primarily CCR5+ CD4 cells) in the female genital tract more than a nonhormonal IUD.
STUDY DESIGN: Thirty-four healthy HIV-negative women aged 18-40 years who were seeking an IUD for contraception were assigned randomly to receive a levonorgestrel IUD or a copper T380A IUD. A parallel group of 8 control women who did not need contraception was also enrolled. Genital tract mucosal immune cell populations that were collected by cervical cytobrush and endometrial biopsy before and 2 months after IUD placement were analyzed by flow cytometry. Mean differences in cell number and percent that expressed receptors from baseline to follow-up examination were evaluated with the use of paired Student t tests.
RESULTS: Neither IUD altered the number of T cells within the upper and lower genital tracts. Levonorgestrel IUD users had a decrease in T cells that expressed the HIV coreceptor CCR5 in the endometrium and cervix after 2 months of use compared with baseline. There was a decrease in activated endometrial T cells in levonorgestrel IUD users and a decrease in activated cervical T cells in copper IUD users after 2 months of IUD use, compared with baseline.
CONCLUSION: Women who use IUDs have reduced expression of the CCR5 HIV coreceptor on T cells in the endometrium and cervix compared with expression before IUD placement. These findings suggest that susceptibility to HIV infection would not be increased by IUD use.
- hormonal contraception
- T cell
ASJC Scopus subject areas