e., different levels of hygiene might allow different types of bacterial species to populate), which has been shown to correlate with HIV seroprevalence.16 O’Farrell et al. used clinician’s assessments selleck compound of ‘wetness’ around the glans or coronal sulcus to show that uncircumcised men had significantly higher rates of wetness when compared to circumcised men. Importantly, they also found a 66.3% HIV seroprevalence in men with any level of penile wetness
when compared to 45.9% in those with no wetness (P < 0.001). These results together suggest that the presence of the foreskin can substantially influence the microenvironment on or near the surface of the penis and that this may in turn affect HIV susceptibility.
Prior to the widely publicized clinical benefit of male circumcision, Hussain et al.17 published a report analyzing selleck inhibitor immune cells in the genital tract. They found no difference in the number of Langerhans (LCs) or CD4+ T cells between the inner and outer foreskin of adult men. Later reports have found conflicting results (Table I): one found more HIV-susceptible cells in the outer when compared to either inner foreskin or glans tissue, and another reported more cells in the inner than the outer foreskin.4,18 A study published by our own group, in collaboration with Dr. Robin Shattock’s group, showed that initial differences in LCs and CD4+ T-cell (glans >> inner > outer) densities were not seen after the tissues were allowed to culture for a few days.4,5,18 Therefore, it is possible that some of the previously observed differences were a result of surgically induced trauma to the tissues and may not accurately reflect normal tissues. To further understand the dynamics
of the immunologic environment in the male genital tract, Fahrbach et al. 19 examined target cell activity in the inner and outer foreskin in response to inflammatory cytokines. Using long-term tissue explant cultures and fluorescent microscopy, they showed that LCs and CD4+ T cells in the inner foreskin were significantly PTK6 more responsive to certain cytokines than those in the outer foreskin. One possible explanation for these findings is that the inner foreskin is more permeable to external agents and stimuli than the outer foreskin. This increased permeability may then relate to increased viral susceptibility in the inner foreskin when compared to other penile surfaces. An appealing early theory proposed that the inner foreskin’s keratin, or cornified, layer was thinner than that of other penile surfaces. A thinner keratin layer potentially allows HIV to reach resident target cells more easily and hence makes uncircumcised men more susceptible to infection. To support this, a study using penile tissue from cadaveric donors reported that the keratin of the inner foreskin was approximately 1.5 subjective units thinner than that of the outer foreskin or glans penis.