Cytokine production by ME-180 cells and VK2 E6/E7 cells on exposure to Neisseria gonorrhoeae, HIV, N. gonorrhoeae and HIV.
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Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Women are more at risk in developing secondary complications due to asymptomatic infections. In 2001, a study was done on the different responses of epithelial cells from three different regions of the lower female genital tract exposed to N. gonorrhoeae. Upregulation of cytokines found in cervical and vaginal secretions has been linked with human immunodeficiency virus 1 infection. In vitro studies of the immune response following exposure to multiple STI pathogens are relevant as mixed infections are common and not many studies have been done. The aim of this study was to determine the cytokine response in a co-infection model with N. gonorrhoeae and HIV using two genital epithelial cell lines. ME-180 cervical cells and VK2 E6/E7 vaginal cells were infected with N. gonorrhoeae and HIV only and with both organisms in different sequence. Infected cells were incubated at 37 °C in 5 % CO2 for 72 h. The supernatant was assayed for cytokines TNF-α, RANTES, IL-1β, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, and IL-10 by means of the Bio-Plex Pro Cytokine, Chemokine, and Growth Factor Assay kit. The spontaneous cytokine release was higher in VK2 E6/E7 cells than in the ME-180 cells. On exposure to single organisms the response to N. gonorrhoeae was stronger than to HIV in both cells for IL-10, IL-8 and IL-6. For infection with N. gonorrhoeae the VK2 E6/E7 cells had a stronger cytokine response than ME-180 but this was not so for HIV. The response the cells had to exposure to both organisms was independent of the sequence of exposure. Further studies should be done on mixed infections of N. gonorrhoeae and HIV with additional STI pathogens.