Murine modeling of menstruation identifies immune correlates of protection during Chlamydia muridarum challenge.

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Murine modeling of menstruation identifies immune correlates of protection during Chlamydia muridarum challenge.


Lawrence, L.; Vidal, P.; Varughese, R.; Li, Z.-R.; Chen, T. D.; Tuske, S.; Jimenez, A.; Lowen, A.; Shafer, W.; Kohlmeier, A.


The menstrual cycle influences the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including Chlamydia trachomatis (C. trachomatis), although the underlying immune contributions are poorly defined. A mouse model simulating the immune-mediated process of menstruation could provide valuable insights into tissue-specific determinants of protection against chlamydial infection within the cervicovaginal and uterine mucosae comprising the female reproductive tract (FRT). Here, we used the pseudopregnancy approach in naive C57Bl/6 mice and performed vaginal challenge with Chlamydia muridarum (C. muridarum) at decidualization, endometrial tissue remodeling, or uterine repair. This strategy identified that the time frame comprising uterine repair correlated with robust infection and greater bacterial burden as compared with mice on hormonal contraception, while challenges during endometrial remodeling were least likely to result in a productive infection. By comparing the infection site at early time points following chlamydial challenge, we found that a greater abundance of innate effector populations and proinflammatory signaling, including IFN gamma correlated with protection. FRT immune profiling in uninfected mice over pseudopregnancy or in pig-tailed macaques over the menstrual cycle identified NK cell infiltration into the cervicovaginal tissues and lumen over the course of endometrial remodeling. Notably, NK cell depletion over this time frame reversed protection, with mice now productively infected with C. muridarum following challenge. This study shows that the pseudopregnancy murine menstruation model recapitulates immune changes in the FRT as a result of endometrial remodeling and identifies NK cell localization at the FRT as essential for immune protection against primary C. muridarum infection.

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