Detection of the human 70-kD and 60-kD heat shock proteins in the vagina: Relation to microbial flora, vaginal pH, and method of contraception
HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
The expression of the 60-kD and 70-kD heat shock proteins (hsp60 and hsp70) in the vaginas of 43 asymptomatic women of reproductive age with or without a history of recurrent vulvovaginitis (RVV) were compared. Vaginal wash samples were obtained and assayed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for human hsp60 and hsp70. Heat shock protein 70 was not detected in any of the 19 women with no history of RVV, and hsp60 was present in only one woman in this group. In contrast, in the RVV group, 11 (45.8%) were hsp60-positive and eight (33.3%) were hsp70-positive. The presence of either heat shock protein in the vagina was associated with an elevated vaginal pH (>4.5). Bacterial vaginosis or Candida was identified in some of the asymptomatic subjects; their occurrence was significantly higher in women with vaginal hsp70 than in women with no heat shock proteins. Oral contraceptives were used by 35.7% of subjects who were negative for vaginal heat shock proteins, as opposed to only 12.5% of women who were positive for hsp70 and 8.3% who were positive for hsp60. Expression of heat shock proteins in the vagina may indicate an altered vaginal environment and a susceptibility to vulvovaginal symptoms.