BackgroundSemen is the main carrier of sexually transmitted viruses, including human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). However, semen is not just a mere passive transporter of virions but also plays an active role in HIV-1 transmission through cytokines and other biological factors.
MethodsTo study the relationship between viruses and the chemokine-cytokine network in the male genital tract, we measured the concentrations of 21 cytokines/chemokines and the loads of HIV-1 and of 6 herpesviruses in seminal and blood plasma from HIV-1-infected and HIV-uninfected men.
ResultsWe found that (1) semen is enriched in cytokines and chemokines that play key roles in HIV-1 infection or transmission; (2) HIV-1 infection changes the chemokine-cytokine network in semen, further enriching it in cytokines that modulate its replication; (3) HIV-1 infection is associated with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) compartmentalized seminal reactivation; (4) CMV and EBV concomitant seminal shedding is associated with higher HIV-1 loads in blood and seminal plasma; and (5) CMV seminal reactivation increases the seminal levels of the CCR5 ligands RANTES and eotaxin, and of the CXCR3 ligand monokine induced by gamma interferon (MIG).
ConclusionsHIV-1 infection results in an aberrant production of cytokines and reactivation of EBV and CMV that further changes the seminal cytokine network. The altered seminal milieu in HIV-1 infection may be a determinant of HIV-1 sexual transmission.
SUBMITTER: Lisco A