Semen of HIV-1-infected individuals: local shedding of herpesviruses and reprogrammed cytokine network.
ABSTRACT: Semen 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.To 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.We 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).HIV-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.
Project description:Multiple viruses coinfect the male genital tract, influencing each other’s replication and perhaps affecting human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pathogenesis and disease progression.This study included 453 longitudinal seminal samples from 195 HIV-infected men from the San Diego Primary Infection Resource Consortium and 67 seminal samples from HIV-negative healthy controls. Seminal HIV RNA and DNA from 7 human herpesviruses (HHVs) were measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Longitudinal shedding rates were determined by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. Predictors of viral shedding were determined using backwards selection in a multivariable generalized estimating equation model.HIV-infected participants presented significantly increased rates of seminal HHV shedding compared with HIV-uninfected controls. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) were the most commonly detected HHV in semen of HIV-infected participants. Persistent shedding was more common for CMV and EBV when compared to other HHVs. With exception of HHV-7, HHV shedding was not significantly influenced by HIV RNA levels, CD4+ cell counts, or antiretroviral therapy. Presence of CMV, EBV, and herpes simplex virus (HSV) were independent predictors of genital HIV RNA shedding after adjusting for plasma HIV RNA and longitudinal measurements.Seminal replication of multiple HHVs is common in our HIV primary infection cohort. Genital replication of CMV and EBV was the most common and was significantly associated with seminal HIV RNA shedding. Prevalence of HSV shedding was lower and mostly intermittent, but its association with seminal HIV RNA was the strongest. Understanding the complex viral milieu in semen is important for HIV transmission but might also play a role in HIV pathogenesis and disease progression.
Project description:Seminal plasma HIV-1 RNA level is an important determinant of the risk of HIV-1 sexual transmission. We investigated potential associations between seminal plasma cytokine levels and viral concentration in the seminal plasma of HIV-1-infected men. This was a prospective, observational study of paired blood and semen samples from 18 HIV-1 chronically infected men off antiretroviral therapy. HIV-1 RNA levels and cytokine levels in seminal plasma and blood plasma were measured and analyzed using simple linear regressions to screen for associations between cytokines and seminal plasma HIV-1 levels. Forward stepwise regression was performed to construct the final multivariate model. The median HIV-1 RNA concentrations were 4.42 log10 copies/ml (IQR 2.98, 4.70) and 2.96 log10 copies/ml (IQR 2, 4.18) in blood and seminal plasma, respectively. In stepwise multivariate linear regression analysis, blood HIV-1 RNA level (p<0.0001) was most strongly associated with seminal plasma HIV-1 RNA level. After controlling for blood HIV-1 RNA level, seminal plasma HIV-1 RNA level was positively associated with interferon (IFN)-? (p=0.03) and interleukin (IL)-17 (p=0.03) and negatively associated with IL-5 (p=0.0007) in seminal plasma. In addition to blood HIV-1 RNA level, cytokine profiles in the male genital tract are associated with HIV-1 RNA levels in semen. The Th1 and Th17 cytokines IFN-? and IL-17 are associated with increased seminal plasma HIV-1 RNA, while the Th2 cytokine IL-5 is associated with decreased seminal plasma HIV-1 RNA. These results support the importance of genital tract immunomodulation in HIV-1 transmission.
Project description:To determine the influence of asymptomatic genital viral infections on the cellular components of semen and blood, we evaluated the associations between the numbers and activation statuses of CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes in both compartments and the seminal levels of cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), and human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV). Paired blood and semen samples were collected from 36 HIV-infected antiretroviral-naïve individuals and from 40 HIV-uninfected participants. We performed multiparameter flow cytometry analysis (CD45, CD45RA, CD3, CD4, CD8, and CD38) of seminal and blood cellular components and measured HIV RNA and CMV and HSV DNA levels in seminal and blood plasma by real-time PCR. Compared to HIV-uninfected participants, in the seminal compartment HIV-infected participants had higher levels of CMV (P < 0.05), higher numbers of total CD3+ (P < 0.01) and CD8+ subset (P < 0.01) T lymphocytes, and higher CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocyte activation (RA-CD38+) (P < 0.01). Seminal CMV levels positively correlated with absolute numbers of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in semen (P < 0.05) and with the activation status of CD4+ T cells in semen and in blood (P < 0.01). HIV levels in semen (P < 0.05) and blood (P < 0.01) were positively associated with T-cell activation in blood. Activation of CD8+ T cells in blood remained an independent predictor of HIV levels in semen in multivariate analysis. The virologic milieu in the male genital tract strongly influences the recruitment and activation of immune cells in semen and may also modulate T-cell immune activation in blood. These factors likely influence replication dynamics, sexual transmission risk, and disease outcomes for all three viruses.
Project description:The genital tract of individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is an anatomic compartment that supports local HIV-1 and cytomegalovirus (CMV) replication. This study investigated the association of seminal CMV replication with changes in HIV-1 clonal expansion, evolution and phylogenetic compartmentalization between blood and semen. Fourteen paired blood and semen samples were analyzed from four untreated subjects. Clonal sequences (n = 607) were generated from extracted HIV-1 RNA (env C2-V3 region), and HIV-1 and CMV levels were measured in the seminal plasma by real-time PCR. Sequence alignments were evaluated for: (i) viral compartmentalization between semen and blood samples using Slatkin-Maddison and F(ST) methods, (ii) different nucleotide substitution rates in semen and blood, and (iii) association between proportions of clonal HIV-1 sequences in each compartment and seminal CMV levels. Half of the semen samples had detectable CMV DNA, with at least one CMV positive sample for each patient. Seminal CMV DNA levels correlated positively with seminal HIV-1 RNA levels (Spearman P = 0.05). A trend towards an association between compartmentalization of HIV-1 sequences sampled from blood and semen and presence of seminal CMV was observed (Cochran Q test P = 0.12). Evolutionary rates between semen and blood HIV-1 populations did not differ significantly, and there was no significant association between seminal CMV DNA levels and the frequency of non-unique clonal HIV-1 sequences in the semen. In conclusion, the effects of CMV replication on HIV-1 viral and immunologic dynamics within the male genital tract are not significant enough to perturb evolution or disrupt compartmentalization in the genital tract.
Project description:Genital inflammatory cytokine responses increase HIV risk. Since male partner semen is a complex mixture of immune-modulatory prostaglandins and cytokines, we hypothesized that exposure to semen may influence genital inflammation in women. Here, we investigated cytokine response kinetics of cervical cells following stimulation with seminal plasma from HIV-negative and HIV-positive men characterized as having low or high concentrations of inflammatory cytokines. Irrespective of the HIV status or semen cytokine profile, in vitro stimulation of cervical cells with seminal plasma resulted in significantly elevated concentrations of secreted IL-6, IL-8, TNF-?, MCP-1, GM-CSF, and VEGF within 8 h of stimulation, which tended to decline by 24 h, although this was only significant for TNF-?. Consistent with this, cervical cells responded to seminal plasma with increases in IL-8 and IL-1? mRNA expression of 10-fold. These findings suggest that the impact of semen on local female genital cytokines is likely transient. Although these findings suggest that the impact of semen on local female genital cytokines may not be sustained long-term, this heightened genital inflammation may have implications for HIV risk in women.
Project description:To investigate the role of genital shedding of herpesviruses in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) transmission, we compared 20 HIV-infected men who did and 26 who did not transmit HIV to their sex partners. As described previously, HIV transmission was associated with the potential source partner having higher levels of HIV RNA in blood and semen, having lower CD4(+) T cell counts, having bacterial coinfections in the genital tract, and not using antiretroviral therapy. This study extended these findings by observing significant associations between HIV transmission and the following characteristics, especially among therapy-naive potential source partners: seminal cytomegalovirus (CMV) shedding, seminal Epstein-Barr virus shedding, and levels of anti CMV immunoglobulin in blood plasma.
Project description:Asymptomatic cytomegalovirus (CMV) replication occurs frequently in the genital tract in untreated HIV-infected men and is associated with increased immune activation and HIV disease progression. To determine the connections between CMV-associated immune activation and the size of the viral reservoir, we evaluated the interactions between (i) asymptomatic seminal CMV replication, (ii) levels of T cell activation and proliferation in blood, and (iii) the size and transcriptional activity of the HIV DNA reservoir in blood from 53 HIV-infected men on long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART) with suppressed HIV RNA in blood plasma. We found that asymptomatic CMV shedding in semen was associated with significantly higher levels of proliferating and activated CD4(+) T cells in blood (P < 0.01). Subjects with detectable CMV in semen had approximately five times higher average levels of HIV DNA in blood CD4(+) T cells than subjects with no CMV. There was also a trend for CMV shedders to have increased cellular (multiply spliced) HIV RNA transcription (P = 0.068) compared to participants without CMV, but it is unclear if this transcription pattern is associated with residual HIV replication. In multivariate analysis, the presence of seminal plasma CMV (P = 0.04), detectable 2-long terminal repeat (2-LTR), and lower nadir CD4(+) (P < 0.01) were independent predictors of higher levels of proviral HIV DNA in blood. Interventions aimed at reducing seminal CMV and associated immune activation may be important for HIV curative strategies. Future studies of anti-CMV therapeutics will help to establish causality and determine the mechanisms underlying these described associations. Importance: Almost all individuals infected with HIV are also infected with cytomegalovirus (CMV), and the replication dynamics of the two viruses likely influence each other. This study investigated interactions between asymptomatic CMV replication within the male genital tract, levels of inflammation in blood, and the size of the HIV DNA reservoir in 53 HIV-infected men on long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART) with suppressed HIV RNA in blood plasma. In support of our primary hypothesis, shedding of CMV DNA in semen was associated with increased activation and proliferation of T cells in blood and also significantly higher levels of HIV DNA in blood cells. These results suggest that CMV reactivation might play a role in the maintenance of the HIV DNA reservoir during suppressive ART and that it could be a target of pharmacologic intervention in future studies.
Project description:HIV-infection is associated with dramatic changes in the intestinal mucosa. The impact of other viral pathogens is unclear.One hundred and eight (108) biopsies from left and right colon (n?=?79) and terminal ileum (n?=?29) were collected from 19 HIV-infected and 22 HIV-uninfected participants. Levels of cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA were measured by droplet digital PCR. Mucosal gene expression was measured via multiplex-assay. Microbiome analysis was performed using bacterial 16S-rDNA-pyrosequencing. The effect of CMV and EBV replication on the microbiome composition and mRNA-expression of selected cytokines (IL-6, IFN-?, IL-1?, CCL2, IL-8, and IFN-?1) was evaluated.Overall, CMV and EBV were detected in at least one intestinal site in 60.5 and 78.9% of participants, respectively. HIV-infected individuals demonstrated less detectable CMV (P?=?0.04); CMV was more frequently detected in terminal ileum than colon (P?=?0.04). Detectable EBV was more frequent among HIV-infected (P?=?0.05) without differences by intestinal site. The number of operational taxonomic units did not differ by CMV or EBV detection status. Among HIV-infected participants, higher CMV was only associated with lower relative abundance of Actinobacteria in the ileum (P?=?0.03). Presence of CMV was associated with upregulated expression of all selected cytokines in the ileum (all P?=?0.02) and higher expression of IL-8 and IFN-?1 in the colon (all P?<?0.05) of HIV-uninfected participants, but not among HIV-infected. EBV had no effect on cytokine expression or microbiome composition whatsoever.These results illustrate a complex interplay among HIV-infection, intestinal CMV replication, and mucosal gut environment, and highlight a possible modulatory effect of CMV on the microbial and immune homeostasis.
Project description:Epstein Barr virus (EBV) and human papillomavirus (HPV) can co-exist in pharyngeal and cervical malignancies. However, the natural history and factors associated with persistent HPV infection among HIV-infected men who have sex with men (MSM) are unclear.131 HIV-infected MSM were followed for 48 weeks and screened for multiple co-infections, including seminal EBV DNA and high risk (HR)-HPV messenger RNA (mRNA) at several sites (semen, anal, pharynx). Primary analysis tested if seminal EBV shedding was associated with increased prevalence of HR-HPV at baseline using univariate tests and multivariable logistic regression. In participants with detectable anal HR-HPV at baseline, we tested if presence of seminal EBV shedding at baseline was also predictive of reduced HR-HPV clearance by log-rank test (over 48 weeks of follow-up).Baseline prevalence of HR-HPV was: anal 44% (N = 54/121); pharynx 3.8% (N = 5/131); semen 7.1% (N = 7/98). Seminal EBV shedding was present in 28% of participants and was associated with more than double the prevalence of detectable anal HR-HPV mRNA (71.4% for EBV shedders versus 33.3% for non-shedders, p < 0.01). In participants with detectable anal HR-HPV at baseline, we found increased persistence of HR-HPV over 48 weeks of follow-up (measured as time to first negative HR-HPV test in the EBV shedding group (p < 0.01).Seminal EBV shedding was associated with an increased risk of having detectable anal HR-HPV in a cohort of HIV-infected MSM on suppressive ART. Future studies should examine if co-infection with EBV and HR-HPV may act synergistically in pathogenesis of anal cancer in HIV-infected individuals.
Project description:The cytokine/chemokine network is used by the innate and adaptive immune system to orchestrate effective immune responses. Here, we describe the cross-sectional association between cytokine levels and stage of HIV infection to gain novel insights into HIV-1 immunopathogenesis and identify novel therapeutic targets.Concentrations of 31?cytokine/chemokines were retrospectively measured in blood and seminal plasma collected from 252 individuals enrolled in four well characterized cohorts: HIV-uninfected, untreated HIV-infected in early phase of infection, untreated HIV-infected in late phase of infection, and HIV-infected on antiretroviral therapy with undetectable HIV RNA levels in blood (<50 copies/ml).Cytokine/chemokine levels were measured by multiplex-bead array. Comparisons between groups were performed by Mann-Whitney U-test and P values were adjusted for multiple comparisons using the Benjamini-Hochberg method.Presence of HIV-infection skewed the cytokine/chemokine network towards a pro-inflammatory response in both blood and semen compared to HIV-uninfected controls. Such changes emerged within the first weeks of infection and were maintained thereafter: Among untreated HIV-infected individuals, none of the 31 measured cytokines were significantly different between early and later stages of infection. Suppression of plasma HIV RNA with ART did not result in normalization of the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in blood. In semen, several pro-inflammatory cytokines were even further upregulated in ART-treated compared with HIV-uninfected and HIV-untreated individuals.A profound disruption in the cytokine/chemokine network is evident in blood and semen from the earliest stage of HIV infection shortly after the first detection of systemic viremia. These changes are maintained throughout the chronic phase of the infection and do not normalize despite ART and suppression of plasma HIV RNA.