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Premium The Structure of the Human Vaginal Stratum Corneum and its Role in Immune Defense
Author(s)
Anderson Deborah J.,
Marathe Jai,
Pudney Jeffrey
Publication year2014
Publication title
american journal of reproductive immunology
Resource typeJournals
PublisherWiley-Blackwell
The superficial layers of the human vaginal epithelium, which form an interface between host and environment, are comprised of dead flattened cells that have undergone a terminal cell differentiation program called cornification. This entails extrusion of nuclei and intercellular organelles, and the depletion of functional DNA and RNA precluding the synthesis of new proteins. As a consequence, the terminally differentiated cells do not maintain robust intercellular junctions and have a diminished capacity to actively respond to microbial exposure, yet the vaginal stratum corneum ( SC ) mounts an effective defense against invasive microbial infections. The vaginal SC in reproductive‐aged women is comprised of loosely connected glycogen‐filled cells, which are permeable to bacterial and viral microbes as well as molecular and cellular mediators of immune defense. We propose here that the vaginal SC provides a unique microenvironment that maintains vaginal health by fostering endogenous lactobacilli and retaining critical mediators of acquired and innate immunity. A better understanding of the molecular and physicochemical properties of the vaginal SC could promote the design of more effective topical drugs and microbicides.
Subject(s)anatomy , biology , genetics , immune system , immunology , innate immune system , intracellular , microbiology and biotechnology , stratum corneum , vagina
Language(s)English
SCImago Journal Rank1.071
H-Index97
eISSN1600-0897
pISSN1046-7408
DOI10.1111/aji.12230

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