The effect of HIV and Neisseria gonorrhoeae on the tight junctions of cervical epithelial cells.
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Introduction: Neisseria gonorrhoeae and HIV are major public health concerns globally. The interaction between these diseases is unclear. To determine the effect that N. gonorrhoeae and HIV have on the tight junctions of cervical epithelial cells, a cervical epithelial cell line was infected with N. gonorrhoeae only, HIV only and with N. gonorrhoeae and HIV simultaneously. Methods: The ME180 cervical cell line was grown to confluence and infected withN. gonorrhoeae only, HIV only and with N. gonorrhoeae and HIV simultaneously. Following infection, N. gonorrhoeae and HIV tansmigration assays and the blue dextran permeability assay were also performedto determine the effect that exposure to the microbes would have on the intact cervical epithelial layer. The tight junction gene expression assays, blue dextran permeability assay and immunofluorescence staining was performed to determine the effect that exposure to the different microbes had on the tight junctions. Results: The results of this study showed that exposure of the cervical epithelial layer to N. gonorrhoeae alone, HIV alone and to N. gonorrhoeae and HIV simultaneously did not affect the paracellular permeability of the epithelial layer. The results showed that a small percentage of N.gonorrhoeaeand HIV was able to migrate across the epithelial layer. With the simultaneous infection of N.gonorrhoeae and HIV, the presence of HIV did not seem to influence the migration of N. gonorrhoeae, as compared to infection with N. gonorrhoeae only, while the presence of N.gonorrhoeae seemed to cause the HIV to pass through the epithelial layer less efficiently than with exposure to HIV only. Discussion: The overall results suggest that since exposure to these microbes does not seem to affect the tight junctions of the intact epithelial layer and does not affect the paracellular permeability, the migration of the microbes across the epithelial layer was possibly through transcytosis.