Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Susceptibility, Immunology, and Microbiome in the Female Genital Tract of Adolescent Versus Adult Pigtail Macaques

Alicia R. Berard, Charlene Miller, Mariluz Araínga, Courtney Ann Broedlow, Laura Noël-Romas, Luca Schifanella, Tiffany Hensley-Mcbain, Alex Roederer, Connor B. Driscoll, Ernesto Coronado, Jennifer Manuzak, Lyle R. McKinnon, Francois Villinger, Thomas J. Hope, Adam D. Burgener*, Nichole R. Klatt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In Sub-Saharan Africa, young women 15-24 years of age account for nearly 30% of all new HIV infections, however, biological and epidemiological factors underlying this disproportionate infection rate are unclear. In this study, we assessed biological contributors of SIV/HIV susceptibility in the female genital tract (FGT) using adolescent (n = 9) and adult (n = 10) pigtail macaques (PTMs) with weekly low-dose intravaginal challenges of SIV. Immunological variables were captured in vaginal tissue of PTMs by flow cytometry and cytokine assays. Vaginal biopsies were profiled by proteomic analysis. The vaginal microbiome was assessed by 16S rRNA sequencing. We were powered to detect a 2.2-fold increase in infection rates between age groups, however, we identified no significant differences in susceptibility. This model cannot capture epidemiological factors or may not best represent biological differences of HIV susceptibility. No immune cell subsets measured were significantly different between groups. Inflammatory marker MCP-1 was significantly higher (adj p = .02), and sCD40L trended higher (adj p = .06) in vaginal cytobrushes of adults. Proteomic analysis of vaginal biopsies showed no significant (adj p < .05) protein or pathway differences between groups. Vaginal microbiomes were not significantly different between groups. No differences were observed between age groups in this PTM model, however, these animals may not reflect biological factors contributing to HIV risk such as those found in their human counterparts. This model is therefore not appropriate to explore human adolescent differences in HIV risk. Young women remain a key population at risk for HIV infection, and there is still a need for comprehensive assessment and intervention strategies for epidemic control of this uniquely vulnerable population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-522
Number of pages13
JournalAIDS research and human retroviruses
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • adolescent females
  • non-human primate
  • pigtail macaque
  • simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)
  • translational research
  • vaginal microbiome
  • vaginal transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology
  • Immunology


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