Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) enhances susceptibility and increases the window of vulnerability to HIV-1 in humanized mice Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractThe progestin-based hormonal contraceptive Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate (DMPA) is widely used in sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV-1 is endemic. Meta-analyses have shown that women using DMPA are 40% more likely than women not using hormonal contraceptives to acquire Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV-1). Therefore understanding how DMPA increases susceptibility to HIV-1 is an important public health issue. Using C57BL/6 mice and our previously optimized humanized mouse model (NOD-Rag1tm1Mom Il2rgtm1Wjl transplanted with hCD34-enriched hematopoietic stem cells; Hu-mice) where peripheral blood and tissues are reconstituted by human immune cells, we assessed how DMPA affected mucosal barrier function, HIV-1 susceptibility, viral titres, and target cells compared to mice in the diestrus phase of the estrous cycle, when endogenous progesterone is highest. We found that DMPA enhanced FITC-dextran dye leakage from the vaginal tract into the systemic circulation, enhanced target cells (hCD68+ macrophages, hCD4+ T cells) in the vaginal tract and peripheral blood (hCD45+hCD3+hCD4+hCCR5+ T cells), increased the rate of intravaginal HIV-1 infection, extended the window of vulnerability, and lowered vaginal viral titres following infection. These findings suggest DMPA may enhance susceptibility to HIV-1 in Hu-mice by impairing the vaginal epithelial barrier, increasing vaginal target cells (including macrophages), and extending the period of time during which Hu-mice are susceptible to infection; mechanisms that might also affect HIV-1 susceptibility in women.


  • Wessels, Jocelyn M
  • Nguyen, Philip V
  • Vitali, Danielle
  • Mueller, Kristen
  • Vahedi, Fatemeh
  • Felker, Allison M
  • Dupont, Haley A
  • Bagri, Puja
  • Verschoor, Chris P
  • Deshiere, Alexandre
  • Mazzulli, Tony
  • Tremblay, Michel J
  • Ashkar, Ali A
  • Kaushic, Charu

publication date

  • February 16, 2021