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From the article:

“If this pathway can be verified in women, then we have laid the foundation to address a number of important public health issues, particularly whether some hormonal contraceptives may be better than others for women who are at higher risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, such as in Sub-Saharan Africa, where both HIV-1 and HSV-2 infection rates are high.”

As part of the study, researchers implanted estradiol-releasing pellets into female mice whose ovaries had been removed. The mice then received two rounds of an HSV-2 vaccine, followed by a high dose of the virus.

The researchers saw that the majority of the mice survived and showed less severe disease symptoms, compared to a control group that was not immunized. Further analysis of the molecular pathways underpinning this defensive mechanism revealed that estradiol primes dendritic cells in the vaginal tract to initiate anti-viral T cell immunity.

More specifically, the researchers reported an increase in anti-viral activity unique to the vaginal tract and not found in any other mucosal lining of the body.

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