Human in vitro Systems to Study Genital Tract Mucosal Defenses Melissa M. Herbst-Kralovetz1* 1University of Arizona, College of Medicine-Phoenix, AZ, USA *Corresponding Author
The cervicovaginal microenvironment is home to a diverse array of microbes that contribute to health and disease. These bacteria play a key role in regulating host physiology at this site and profoundly impact reproductive, gynecologic, and obstetric health. In recent years, sequencing technologies have broadened our appreciation for the breadth and diversity of microbes that inhabit the female reproductive tract (FRT) and have associated many of these organisms to women's health outcomes. Unfortunately, tractable, small animal models for studying host-microbe interactions in the lower female reproductive tract are not available. As such, we are limited in our understanding of the functional impact of these organisms on the genital microenvironment and how these mechanisms contribute to homeostasis or disease. Here, we utilize robust, physiologically relevant 3-D human reproductive tract epithelial models to determine the function of these diverse microbes on epithelial cell morphology, cellular integrity, adherence, intercellular interactions and resulting host defense mechanisms. Key modeling topics related to multiplicity of infection, timing, cytotoxicity, site-specificity in the FRT and bacterial species-specific differences in host responsiveness will be discussed. Our findings using these human model systems, coupled with robust clinical translational studies, will aid in better understanding the functional impact of these organisms throughout the female reproductive tract and will provide mechanistic insights into how these bacteria contribute to reproductive and gynecologic health and disease.
Credits: None available.
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