The antiretroviral-based dapivirine vaginal ring reduced HIV risk among women in Phase III clinical trials. However, limited data exists on the impact of dapivirine on the vaginal microenvironment in adolescents.
A comprehensive metaproteomics approach was used to assess host proteome and microbiome changes in cervicovaginal mucus with dapivirine ring use in adolescents enrolled in the MTN-023/IPM 030 (MTN-023) trial.
Participants were randomized 3 : 1 to use dapivirine or placebo vaginal rings monthly for 6 months. Cervicovaginal samples from a subset of 35 participants (8 placebo, 27 dapivirine) were analyzed.
Mass spectrometry analysis identified 405 human and 2467 bacterial proteins belonging to 15 unique genera. The host proteome belonged to many functional pathways primarily related to inflammation. When stratified by study treatment arm, 18 (4.4%) and 28 (6.9%) human proteins were differentially abundant (p adj. < 0.05) between baseline and follow-up in the placebo and dapivirine arms respectively. The vaginal microbiome was predominantly composed of Lactobacillus, Gardnerella, and Prevotella. While bacterial taxa did not differ by arm or change significantly, L. crispatus increased (P < 0.001) and L. iners decreased (P < 0.001) during the six month follow-up. There were no significant differences in bacterial functions by arm or time in the trial. Protected vaginal sex significantly associated with decreased neutrophil inflammatory biomarkers and may be associated with changes in bacterial taxa and metabolism.
Condom use may associate with differences to inflammation and bacterial function, but dapivirine ring use does not, thereby supporting the mucosal safety profile of this vaginal ring for adolescents.